Nature Strip ridden by Damian Lane wins the A.R. Creswick Series Final at Flemington (Ross Holburt/Racing Photos)
It speaks volumes for a horse’s perceived ability when he wins his first stakes race by ONLY one and a half lengths!
Following Saturday’s victory by Nature Strip in the Listed A.R. Creswick Series Final over 1200m at Flemington, much of the post-race commentary surrounded the 3YO’s lack of ‘authority’…certainly compared to his previous outing when scoring by nearly five lengths over the 1100m at Flemington on 23 June.
And the reason for such significant conjecture is the lure of a possible slot in October’s $13m Everest race.
Sent out a $1.30 favourite in the Creswick final, Nature Strip again jumped straight to the lead again and appeared to be cruising before a solid challenge from Order of Command (Squamosa) over the closing stages.
“He (Nature Strip) did look like he was going to explode and really run away with it,” trainer Darren Weir points out.
“However, he was over-travelling and when they do that it takes away their brilliance late in the race.
“We are still learning a lot about him, but he is a free-wheeling horse and hopefully will go on to bigger and better things.”
One of those bigger and better things will be – if his owners can find a willing slot-holder – the $13 million Everest in October.
Indeed, the Creswick was something of a dress rehearsal for Nature Strip who has now won six of nine outings, with two seconds, since first appearing on the stage with a Mornington maiden victory last October.
Currently five slots remain for the Everest with Weir optimistic that Nature Strip will be offered one of them.
“Everyone is pretty keen to get him into the Everest, so hopefully there are some slot holders who may be interested in taking him on, but if that doesn’t happen we’ll map out a plan for the spring,” Weir adds.
Either way, the future appears to be very bright for the flashy chestnut.
Bred by the Hunter Valley based Golden Grove Thoroughbreds, Nature Strip is the third winner (and sixth foal) for Desert Sun’s multiple stakes winner Strikeline whose other progeny include the Sydney 2YO stakes winner The Barrister (who now races in Hong Kong as ‘High Volatility).
Offered by Golden Grove Thoroughbreds at the 2016 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, Nature Strip was passed in for $90,000 off a reserve of $120,000.
“He (Nature Strip) was a lovely type but just looked like he needed more time,” Golden Grove’s farm manager Jeremy Vaughan explains.
“He was later purchased privately by his current ownership group and it’s fantastic to see him going so well for them.
“We’ve got a full sister to Nature Strip – a rising 3YO – who is on farm and had a couple of preps and will soon be going into full work.
“The mare (Strikeline) is currently in New Zealand but she’ll return to Australia and be covered by (Widden Stud sire) Nicconi in 2019.”
Spanning around 200 acres at Denman in the Hunter Valley, Golden Grove is the breeding division of Sean Buckley’s Ultra Thoroughbreds and has been operating for around six years.
“We’ve had quite a few good horses come off Golden Grove in the last couple of years, but Nature Strip is the pick of the bunch. Certainly will be if he wins the Everest!” Vaughan adds.
Nature Strip becomes the 16th stakes winner for his lightning fast sire Nicconi, a Group One winning sprinter based at Widden Stud where he stands at a fee of $24,750( inc. GST).
Nicconi, whose other top notchers include Group Two winners Faatinah, Chill Party, Nicoscene and Sircconi, won the Group One The Galaxy at three and Group One Lightning at four before heading to stud with over $1 million in the bank.
Nicconi was bred and raced by Peter Devitt and the Gordon family who also race another up and comer in Tony Nicconi, a winner by four lengths on debut at Caulfield on 30 June, while yet another to race in the familiar Devitt/Gordon colours is Saturday’s Listed Taj Rossi Series Final winner at Flemington, Good ‘n’ Fast.
A half-brother to 4-time stakes winner Fast ‘n’ Rocking, Good ‘n’ Fast was having just his third start in the Taj Rossi and is the 45th stakes winner for another Widden stallion in Sebring.
Not surprisingly, Widden reports that Nicconi, Sebring and boom first season sire, Zoustar are all fully booked this spring.
HOOFNOTE: Nature Strip’s damsire Desert Sun died just on six years ago at Victoria’s Sun Stud, where he had stood for 11 seasons after coming from New Zealand in 1999.
Best known for siring dual Cox Plate winner Sunline, Desert Sun’s daughters have produced 338 winners, among them the immortal Black Caviar.