The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Chris Waller’s Champion Sprinter Nature Strip has firmed into favouritism in The Everest 2021 betting for Saturday’s $15 million feature at Royal Randwick.
The money is rolling in for the Nicconi seven-year-old to take out the world’s richest turf race at his third attempt on the back of two nice lead-up runs this prep.
Last seen running a close second in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m), Nature Strip is after his first win since successfully defending his Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) title at The Everest track and distance in the autumn.
The $8 million earner is drawn gate 10 in The Everest field of 12 with James McDonald in the saddle, potentially the ideal draw with the likely Soft – Heavy track predicted for the weekend’s racing in Sydney.
Currently Randwick is rated a Soft (7) and with more rain on the way Friday, it could be a wet track for The Everest Day.
That has seen Nature Strip – two-from-two on Heavy going and four-from-seven on Soft tracks – firm in from $4.50 to $4 to sit top of The Everest odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
McDonald is also confident pre-race stating the horse is “going as good as ever”.
“He’s going as good as ever, I can’t fault him at all, he’s had a good preparation and he’s ready for a hard 1200m race that’s going to be in front of him,” McDonald said on SEN Track’s Bensley.
“He’s going well.
“Track conditions are going to play a vital part in what happens.
“I think I’d actually prefer it to be in the soft or worst part of Soft range.
“He gets through it really well, he seems to go as fast on Heavy ground as he does on quick ground, it doesn’t really affect him.
“If the track is in a Heavy range, you could count on one hand how many are going to handle it as good as him.
“That wipes out the rest of them because there are a few unknowns about a lot of them.”
One-time favourite and defending champion Classique Legend resumes in The Everest looking to become the inaugural first-up winner of the weight-for-age sprint feature.
Les Bridge’s gun grey hasn’t raced since his unsuccessful Hong Kong Sprint bid at Sha Tin last December and is the $4.50 second elect for the weekend.
He is out to emulate the inaugural and two-time The Everest champion Redzel (2017-18) in going back-to-back and is drawn barrier five for three-time The Everest winning hoop Kerrin McEvoy.
A further three horses are under $10 in the markets including The Shorts winner Eduardo who has been well-backed from $8 into $6 to beat home Nature Strip again.
Joe Pride’s eight-year-old is another proven mudlark with excellent Sort (6:5-0-1) and Heavy (3:2-0-0) track form.
The Host gelding won Sydney’s Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) and Brisbane’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) last prep with a third to Nature Strip in the TJ Smith Stakes in between.
The rails-dawn Gytrash ($7.50) looking to go two better than his third in last year’s The Everest trifecta and the easing Group 2 Premiere Stakes winner Masked Crusader ($9) round out the single-figure fancies.
The Everest 2021 runs as Randwick Race 7 at 4:15pm (AEDT) on Saturday.
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