Waller’s gun still a freak of Nature

Nature Strip is still racing’s great enigma but trainer Chris Waller knows at his best the misfiring sprinter is still the horse to beat in Saturday’s $15 million The Everest at Randwick.

It’s been rollercoaster preparation for Waller’s star son of Nicconi, which has seen his vice like grip on The Everest favouritism disappear following two loses and a barrier mishap in the past few months.

Nature Strip was rolled as a $1.45 favourite first-up in the Concorde Stakes before tossing off regular jockey James McDonald in a barrier trial in the lead up to his second-up assignment.

Nature Strip tossed off James McDonald in a trial last month. Photoz:Mark Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

When he eventually stepped out on raceday again the star sprinter was beaten as favourite in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes before it was later found he had a respiratory issue following the fourth placing.

As a result of the less than ideal build up Nature Strip has drifted from $2.60 favourite in early markets to $6 with bookies TAB.com.au ahead of Tuesday night’s barrier draw.

Waller admits it has seen the pressure to perform come off somewhat for the six-year-old this weekend.

But the master horseman hasn’t lost any faith in his star sprinter’s ability as he prepares for his greatest challenge this spring.

“I think he is the best horse in the race but I also respect current form and his current form isn’t as good as others in the race,” Waller said.

“Maybe it is from his own undoing. As I have said, we can’t find anything wrong with him apart from the little bit of mucas he had down towards his lungs before last start.

“That was quickly cleared up with basic antibiotics and his blood was down yesterday and the vet is very happy with his levels.

“He has bounced back really well.

“Knowing there was a small problem going into his last start, we can now come out of the race knowing he wasn’t 100%.

“Had we known that he probably wouldn’t have raced.”

James McDonald won the TJ Smith earlier this year. Photo: Matt King/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Waller was pragmatic when discussing how best to turn Nature Strip’s fortunes around.

“What can you do? They are animals and they are unpredictable,” Waller said.

“We know we have got a very good horse so we don’t have to make him run faster, we just have to try and get him to the same place he has been when he is running these high ratings.

“Enough to put his ratings up with the best horses in the world. We haven’t panicked.

“We have just made sure we have kept everything simple and made sure he is in a good headspace and there is no aches and pains. There is certainly none of that.

“We are going into Saturday feeling confident he can run up to his best form.”

Nature Strip put the final touches on what’s been a rollercoaster build up for the richest race on turf with a track gallop at Rosehill on Tuesday.

James McDonald rode Nature Strip on Tuesday morning. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James GourleySource:News Corp Australia

Everest jockey James McDonald made the trip out on the morning and was rapt with what he saw four days out from the main event.

“One thing I did notice he is definitely looking a bit better in his coat,” McDonald said.

“It is starting to come through and he is improving all the time.

“I thought his past few performances haven’t been that bad, so we are looking forward to the race.

“He likes getting out in the odds and when he does he normally performs pretty well. He doesn’t like that short quote.

“He is getting out to that point where he is not as fancied as three or four weeks ago, so I’m not saying he is under the odds but he can really perform on his day and if he turns up in that kind of form he will be hard to beat.”

Waller also has Haut Brion Her in The Everest.

Originally published asWaller’s gun still a freak of Nature

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