The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Two-time hero Nature Strip is set to return to winning form and secure an historic third win in Flemington’s Champions Sprint 2022 when he again takes on The Everest winning three-year-old Giga Kick in the $3 million showdown on Saturday.
The world’s best sprinter, Chris Waller’s eight-year-old son of Nicconi is all the rage in betting on this weekend’s Group 1 Darley Champions Sprint (1200m) – formerly the VRC Sprint Classic – having won the event in 2019 and last year for the stable.
With over $20 million in the bank, the internationally-preformed champion returns to the straight at Flemington where he boasts an imposing record (9:6-2-0) having been narrowly beaten in the world’s richest turf race last start.
After winning the $15 million The Everest last year, Nature Strip was favourite to go back-to-back and emulate Redzel (2017, 2018) as two-time heroes of the Sydney feature.
He was far from disgraced running under a length away fourth as three-year-old Giga Kick stole the show in a boilover at big odds.
Saturday sees the two come face-to-face again this time at headquarters, and it is the more experienced Nature Strip the punters want.
Nature Strip, drawn out in barrier 12 for jockey James McDonald, sits top of the Champions Sprint odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.10.
Giga Kick presents as the danger on the second line of betting at $6 in gate seven with Craig Williams in the saddle again.
Williams gave the unbeaten Clayton Douglas-trained Scissor Kick gelding a perfectly timed ride to break their hearts in The Everest.
This time the youngster rises only a half-kilo with 53.5kg as he returns to Flemington where he has won both his previous starts including the Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1100m) that led into his upset success at Randwick.
At an equal $6 quote in Champions Sprint betting is last start winning mare at The Valley, Bella Nipotina, for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup winning trainers Ciaron Maher & David Eustace.
The always-honest daughter of Pride Of Dubai finally broke through for her maiden Group 1 success at her 32nd career start in the rescheduled Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on Cox Plate Day.
Saturday marks her fifth run at Flemington where she has had three minor placings, including a distant third when 4.5 lengths off Nature Strip in last year’s race off a Manikato second.
She will get a peach of a run from barrier four with Jamie Kah aboard on Stakes Day, and with the confidence of a last start win, has every hope of another big performance.
Presenting as the forgotten value runner in the field is Michael Moroney’s Per Incanto mare Roch ‘N’ Horse ($26).
She won the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap here at 100/1 in the autumn and was good finishing second to subsequent The Everest runner-up Private Eye last start in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m).
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||1x231x1x14||NATURE STRIP||Chris Waller||James McDonald||12||58.5kg||122|
|2||6x579x6390||MASKED CRUSADER||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Damien Thornton||11||58.5kg||111|
|3||20x8730x40||THE INFERNO||Cliff Brown||John Allen||1||58.5kg||104|
|4||7x5543x152||ROTHFIRE||Robert Heathcote||Luke Nolen||8||58.5kg||108|
|5||103322×618||PAULELE||James Cummings||Brenton Avdulla||9||58.5kg||109|
|6||x402x104x1||FRONT PAGE||Geoff Duryea||Ben Melham||3||58.5kg||98|
|7||72633×6463||THE ASTROLOGIST||Leon & Troy Corstens||Nash Rawiller||10||58.5kg||104|
|8||20x8815x13||BALLER||Tony Gollan||Mark Zahra||5||58.5kg||108|
|9||x58155x121||BELLA NIPOTINA||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Ms Jamie Kah||4||56.5kg||112|
|10||64x3135x84||SEPTEMBER RUN||Chris Waller||Damien Oliver||13||56.5kg||110|
|11||427210×422||ROCH ’N’ HORSE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Jamie Mott||6||56.5kg||111|
|12||514x12114x||LEVANTE (NZ)||Ken & Bev Kelso||Michael Dee||14||56.5kg||111|
|13||8x1227x291||ARGENTIA||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Tim Clark||15||56.5kg||101|
|14||1×1111||GIGA KICK||Clayton Douglas||Craig Williams||7||53.5kg||114|
|15||11×34||LOFTY STRIKE||Julius Sandhu||Craig Newitt||2||53.5kg||86|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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