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Former Darren Weir turned Chris Waller trained Nature Strip was too good at Caulfield on Saturday, claiming the $200,000 Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) by an impressive two-lengths.
The speedy four-year-old started slowly from the inside draw, but quickly found himself up on the speed to lead second place-getter Jungle Edge.
By the 500m mark the race already looked over as Nature Strip came off the bit. Rounding the bend with ears pricked, jockey Damian Lane was left with very little work to do as the pair went on to claim their fourth victory together.
“He’s very fast, he just threw his head back a little bit when the barriers opened, he was just a little bit tardy away, but because he’s so quick, he mustered speed quickly” Lane said after the race.
Now with nine wins from 13 career starts, the win ultimately made up for a disappointing Group 1 debut in September’s Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley.
Lane liked what he saw from his ride on Saturday, but still thinks there’s some improvement to come as the stable decides between the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) or next month’s Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 9.
“Silly as it sounds, you probably felt like he knocked up a touch late being first up, but a little bit exciting knowing there’s a little bit of improvement in him yet” Lane went on to say.
“I’ll leave that (decision) to Chris Waller and the team to see how he pulls up, but he could probably run next week in the Lightning really.”
Nature Strip has firmed from $4.20 into $3.00 with Ladbrokes for the Oakleigh Plate, and $8.00 into $7.00 for the Newmarket.
Stable representative Jo Taylor had nothing but praise for Lane and his winning ride.
“He certainly did everything right, maybe marginally slow, but I think Damian didn’t want to get going too fast, but he did it quite comfortably setting his own tempo,” Taylor said.
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