Nature Strip set to tackle small field first up

Just five rivals have been nominated to go toe-to-toe with The Everest favourite Nature Strip in Saturday’s Group III Concorde Stakes at Randwick.

Fellow The Everest contender Gytrash was among the list of possible combatants for the 1000m scamper, with nominations for the race extended until Tuesday morning.

The Concorde Stakes will be the first lead up run to the $15 million The Everest for Nature Strip, with a run in the Group II Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on October 3 also on the cards.

Nature Strip is the $2.80 favourite for The Everest with and will run in the bookmaker’s slot in the race.

The son of Nicconi finished fourth first up in the Concorde Stakes last year before finishing fourth in The Everest two starts later.

A pair of dominant trial victories should have the Group I-winning six-year-old ready to fire for his first up test, according to trainer Chris Waller.

“He will have a gallop early this week and he’s ready to fly,” Waller said.

Nature Strip was beaten first up at the beginning of his autumn preparation over 1000m as a $1.45 favourite in the Group I Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.

But Waller believes Saturday’s sprint will be a different kettle of fish.

“The 1000 up the straight is a little different to 1000 around a bend,” he said.

Jockey James McDonald will continue his strong association with Nature Strip.

McDonald was again aboard in his last start in the autumn when Nature Strip scored a dominant victory in the TJ Smith Stakes. rated Nature Strip as a $1.40 chance to return a winner in the Concorde Stakes with Gytrash at $3.50 in the ‘all in’ market.

The Hawkes Racing-trained Dirty Work, Group II winner Splintex, veteran Ball Of Muscle and Waller’s Fiesta have also been nominated.