Nature Strip launches 1st-up blitz in Rubiton Stakes

The shift to another racing superpower hasn’t fazed brilliant sprinter Nature Strip judging by his outstanding win in Saturday’s Group II Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield.

Darren Weir’s four-year ban forced his owners to look for another trainer before sending the speedster to join a plethora of other top performers at the Chris Waller stable.

Waller said pre-race the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket Handicap were likely targets for Nature Strip, who had little trouble posting his ninth win from 13 starts in the Rubiton Stakes.

TAB reacted to Nature Strip’s win by cutting his Newmarket Handicap quote from $11 to $8.

Nature Strip wasn’t brilliantly away but mustered his customary pace to hold out fellow on-pacer Jungle Edge to find the front on the inside after 200m.

Jockey Damian Lane let Nature Strip roll through the middle stages of the race, which left Jungle Edge under pressure to stay with the leader on the home turn.

Nature Strip went three lengths clear at the 300m and the $1.75 favourite had little trouble holding his opposition, scoring easily by 3-½ lengths. Jungle Edge ($11) stuck on well for second ahead of Thermal Current ($26), who got home steadily along the inner section of the track.

“He’s just very fast,” Lane said.

“He threw his head back in my lap a little bit when the barriers opened so he was a little bit tardy away but because he’s so quick, he mustered speed very quickly.

“As silly as it sounds, he just probably just knocked up a touch late so it’s just exciting that there’s a little bit more improvement in him.”

Lane paid tribute to Weir and fellow jockey John Allen for their work in getting the son of Nicconi to settle better in his races while also noting Weir’s impact on his career to date.

“He (Weir) has obviously been a big part of my career and I wouldn’t be where I am now without him,” Lane said.

Winterbottom Stakes winner Voodoo Lad started as a $3.80 favourite but was never a factor, finishing almost six lengths from the winner after settling at the rear of the six-horse field. –

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