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Nature Strip:: Will He Step Even Higher This Autumn?


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Nature Strip returns as well as ever

Nature Strip won his first trial back for James McDonald and Chris Waller. Picture: GRANT GUYNature Strip won his first trial back for James McDonald and Chris Waller. Picture: GRANT GUY
 
 
By Mitch Cohen
02:05pm • 17 January 2022
 

The road to the autumn and a potential Royal Ascot tilt began exactly how most expected for The Everest winner Nature Strip at Rosehill trials on Monday morning.

The Chris Waller-trained sprinter was his typical self when coasting along in front and claiming his 900m heat comfortably in his first public appearance of 2022.

Jockey James McDonald kept the star son of Nicconi out of trouble nice and wide on the track and allowed him to go through his gears at his own leisure, clocking 55.50 seconds (last 600m in 34.02) for the gallop.

Richard and Michael Freedman’s Group 1 mare Forbidden Love kept Nature Strip honest up the straight with a strong effort to finish three-quarters-of-a-length away in second with Standout a further 3-1/2 lengths back.

Nature Strip is a clear favourite to add to his Group 1 record in the coming months with TAB listing the gelding as a $2.50 elect for the Lightning Stakes and $4 chance for the TJ Smith Stakes.

A galaxy of three-year-old stars were next to step out at the Rosehill trials including Godolphin gun Anamoe and boom filly Espiona as they took their first step towards Group 1 targets.

But it was Group 3 winner Mallory, trained by Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou, which laid down an early autumn marker when cruising to a 2-3/4 length win in the 900m heat.

The Not A Single Doubt filly clocked 55.92 (last 600m in 35.11) when putting a space on the talented Ranch Hand and Zethus.

Caulfield Guineas winner Anamoe came through from last to finish on the placegetters heels while Espiona was given an easy time of it, finishing midfield alongside stablemates Fangirl and Roots.

Espiona is the $2 favourite to win the Surround Stakes next month.

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