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Trainer Chris Waller has warned rivals his 2020 The Everest favourite Nature Strip is “ready to fly” first-up in Saturday’s Group 3 $160,000 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick.
The star Nicconi six-year-old is already scaring off potential competition with the Concorde Stakes 2020 nominations attracting just six early entries on Monday.
Nature Strip ran fourth to dual The Everest champion Redzel fresh in last year’s Concorde before winning the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at The Valley.
From Sydney to Melbourne and back again, third-up he ran a very close fourth only 1.3 lengths off his winning stablemate Yes Yes Yes as a 20/1 outsider in The Everest results 2019.
The world’s richest turf race is now worth an unprecedented $15 million and Waller is tipped to take it out again, this year with Nature Strip for the TAB.
Nature Strip along with Classique Legend and fellow Concorde Stakes nominee Gytrash and the only three confirmed The Everest horses so far in 2020, the event to run at Royal Randwick on October 17.
Since last year’s The Everest race, Nature Strip has had four subsequent starts including his Group 1 VRC Classic (1200m) win down the Flemington straight last November.
His autumn consisted of a first-up fourth to Gytrash in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at HQ before his back-to-back Randwick wins in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) and Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
Waller has trialled the classy chestnut twice ahead of his return on Saturday, Nature Strip winning back-to-back heats at Rosehill in the wet during August, and the trainer is confident he can perform better fresh in Sydney than he did when beaten at Flemington last preparation.
“He will have a gallop early this week and he’s ready to fly,” Waller told Racenet.
“The 1000 up the straight [at Flemington] is a little different to 1000 around a bend.”
He looks an imposing first-up force, and the bookies are taking no chances already installing him as the all-in odds-on favourite at $1.40 in pre-field Concorde Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Of his potential rivals it is Gordon Richards’ aforementioned Lightning Stakes winner Gytrash ($3.60), last seen finishing second in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville in May, considered the most likely for an upset.
Second-up Nature Strip, reuniting with James McDonald this campaign, is set to run in the Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) back at Randwick on October 3.
As for The Everest 2020, Nature Strip is currently sitting top of the markets at $3.20.
2020 Concorde Stakes Nominations
|Last 10||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Hcp Rating|
|1||9x3022x07x||BALL OF MUSCLE||G||10||Joseph Pride||107|
|2||41x548111x||DIRTY WORK||H||4||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||94|
|5||x4141x411x||NATURE STRIP||G||6||Chris Waller||121|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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