Everest hope on the line

3 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

Rising sprinting star Nature Strip (Nicconi) is as well as he can be as he prepares to scale a mountain on Saturday. The 4-year-old will be courting the acceptance at Moonee Valley of one of the last two slot-holders for a place in The Everest.

The Australian Turf Club and a group headed by Max Whitby have yet to select their representative and little less than a commanding winning performance from Nature Strip in the G2 Mitty’s McEwen S., is likely to get their vote.

Nature Strip needs to put in a commanding performance in the Group 2 Mitty's McEwen Stakes to secure his Everest slot

“They’ll be keen to look at him on Saturday when he steps up to weight-for-age to see how he performs,” said Simon McCartin, racing manager for trainer Darren Weir. “The horse is really well and there’s been a little bit of time between runs, but he’s been ticking over at the beach and he’s in great shape.”

“They’ll be keen to look at him on Saturday when he steps up to weight-for-age to see how he performs.” - Simon McCartin.

McCartin said Nature Strip’s preparation was accommodating to an Everest start. “He’ll run in the McEwen and then the Moir S., and off to Sydney after that if he gets a slot. The stable’s not involved in any of the negotiations, that’s up to the owners.”

Nature Strip’s co-owner Rod Lyons said he understood the slot-holders delaying any decision and expected nothing other than an impressive winning run on Saturday would satisfy them. He believed the Australian Turf Club would be their most likely suitor should the horse seal his side of the deal.

Nature Strip has won seven of his 10 starts, his first three for now banned trainer Robert Smerdon and then one from Robert Hickmott’s stable before two placings under John Sadler’s watch and then his eventual arrival at Weir’s door.

Listed victories

He has a perfect three for three record with the gelding, including consecutive Listed successes in the Creswick Series Final at Flemington and in the Lightning S., at Morphettville.

Nature Strip is out of Strikeline (Desert Sun {GB}), who won the G3 Ian McEwen Trophy and a pair of Listed events before her sale for $470,000 to Sean Buckley’s Ultra Thoroughbreds at the 2006 Magic Millions Gold Coast Broodmare Sale. All three of her foals to race have been winners with Nature Strip a half-brother to the Listed Fernhill H., winner The Barrister (Star Witness).

Strikeline missed last year to Savabeel (Zabeel {NZ}) and is again booked to be served by Waikato Stud’s champion sire this season.

Strikeline (outside, black cap) wins the Listed How Now Stakes at Caulfield in 2004

Smart filly back on track

The Weir stable will also present the unbeaten Anjana (Sepoy) for her seasonal debut in the Listed Ladbrokes Atlantic Jewel S. She was a $34,000 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale purchase and more than doubled her purchase price last season when successful in all three of her 2-year-old outings.

She is a daughter of Further (More Than Ready {USA}), was unraced and is out of Shelbourne Lass (Brocco {USA}) who won twice at Group 3 level and is in turn the dam of the Group winner Elusive Touch (Elusive Quality {USA}). It is the family of the former champion sprinter and dual Group 1 winner Vinaka (NZ) (Volksraad {GB}).

Anjana was a $34,000 Inglis Classic purchase