Nature Strip shows courage under fire to star in Galaxy

4 min read

By Paul Vettise

The enigmatic Nature Strip (Nicconi) revealed his true colours when he stuck to his task with admirable diligence to produce a career-high performance and add a Group 1 victory to his resume.

The chestnut has always looked to possess the quality and pace to make his mark at the highest sprinting level and a ridiculously easy win in the G2 Rubiton S. at Caulfield three runs back suggested the G1 Oakleigh Plate would give him the opportunity to make that a reality.

However, after enjoying an easy run in his customary front-running role he petered out to finish unplaced and a beaten favourite.

Those who stayed loyal at Rosehill on Saturday were rewarded when he led and refused to throw in the towel for rider James McDonald to beat Pierata (Pierro) by a whisker in the G1 Oh! Media Galaxy.

It completed a stellar day for trainer Chris Waller, who earlier savoured yet another delight with Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) continuing her winning way in the G1 George Ryder S. and The Autumn Sun (Redoute’s Choice) a gallant victor in the G1 Rosehill Guineas.

“It’s a great race day. There’s the world’s richest 2-year-old race and then there’s the back-up card and the big sprint, not to mention The Autumn Sun and Winx and we’ve done it,” Waller said.

Nature Strip has enjoyed a lively career and is the now the winner of 10 of his 15 starts and for a variety of reasons he has been successful for numerous stables.

“Everybody’s had a go at training him and it’s great to get a Group 1 with him.” - Chris Waller.

He has had spells with now disqualified trainers Robert Smerdon and Darren Weir, in between times short stints with Robert Hickmott andJohn Sadler, and is now a resident of Waller’s Rosehill yard.

“Everybody’s had a go at training him and it’s great to get a Group 1 with him,” Waller said.

“Well done to those other trainers as well. Well done to James (McDonald) as well, he’s put in a lot of work on him on the training tracks and the trials.

A jubilant James McDonald

“He’s just a lovely horse to train. You’ve just got to get into his head on race day and that the winning post isn’t at the 300 metre mark.”

The mind games with Nature Strip have been won by Waller and the 4-year-old, while taking baby steps in the closing stages, showed a not often enough steely side to cling on to a cigarette paper margin at the post.

“You’ve just got to get into his head on race day and that the winning post isn’t at the 300 metre mark.” – Chris Waller.

“From the wide draw and a wet track there was a lot of gate speed so he needed to be pretty tough to win,” Waller said.

“Getting horses from good trainers, they come in pretty good condition. We’ve just basically looked after him and loved him.”

McDonald said he was delighted to see Nature Strip fulfil his potential.

“The team has done an amazing job with him. From the first time I sat on him I knew he was a brilliant sprinter,” he said.

“I sat like a church mouse and I thought the ground would be an assist and it was. It was a great race and he’s done it the tough way and won.”

For Pierata, it was again a case of so close but so far. The Greg Hickman-trained entire has previously gone close to elite level success to further boost his stallion profile with placings in the in the G1 VRC Sprint Classic and the G1 Randwick Guineas.

Easy Eddie (Super Easy {NZ}) gave a solid account of himself in this grade by finishing third ahead of Encryption (Lonhro).