Chris Waller-trained gelding on top of the world after dominating Group 1 sprint at Royal Ascot
Nature Strip (Nicconi) carried the hopes and dreams of Australia on the opening day of Royal Ascot and duly delivered in emphatic fashion to dominate yesterday’s King’s Stand Stakes (Gr 1, 5f) and leave no doubt as to which horse is the world’s best sprinter.
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Chris Waller, a trainer to have accomplished so many top level feats in a young yet already illustrious career, described it as “breathtaking”, while James McDonald – troubled just for a moment until he realised the only horse within four and a half lengths of the sprint king was riderless – said it was “scintillating”.
“It means a lot. To be able to perform on the big stage with a horse from another hemisphere, it’s not easy and it’s pretty special. It was a perfect journey with the right horse and I’m honoured to be training Nature Strip,” an emotional Waller said. “It was a good display, he’s a very good horse and he has been for a very long time. He’s in the twilight of his career but he’s learned to be a racehorse now. He was a tricky horse early on.
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“Australia has a huge racing industry and a huge breeding industry and to showcase our breeds and what we do, it’s important.
The ratings stack up, he’s the highest rated sprinter in the world, but until you do it on the main stage, it’s another story. It just reminds everybody how strong we are in Australia.
” Victory marked a 137th Group 1 win for Waller, with this the first outside Australia, despite having run close with Brazen Beau (I Am Invincible) who ran second in the 2015 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Gr 1, 6f) at Royal Ascot.
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That tally of elite-level wins includes 25 Group 1 wins with the incomparable Winx (Street Cry) and a Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) victory this season with Verry Elleegant (Zed), and Waller rated this triumph among the best of his achievements.
“It’s right up there,” Waller said. “I’m very lucky to have had many very special moments, but this is right at the top.” In a race billed as an international .
” In a race billed as an international face off between Nature Strip (7 g ex Strikeline by Desert Sun) and American raider Golden Pal (Uncle Mo) – backed strongly late to assume 15-8 favouritism – the popular seven-year old entered the course to a chorus of cheers from the large contingent of Australians who had made the journey to Europe’s premier racing carnival.