Nature Strip has revived ambitions for The Everest after a typical heart-stopping performance to snare the Group 1 Moir Stakes at The Valley.
Trainer Chris Waller said after the thrilling 1000m dash where bolter Miss Leonidas nearly stole the show with a late burst, that Nature Strip was back in contention for next month’s $14 million race.
“I don’t think 1200 metres is a problem,” Waller said looking ahead to The Everest.
“I’d say we’ll just see how it unfolds over the next few days. If he doesn’t get an invite to The Everest, I guess the Schillaci is the logical choice but there are plenty of options this time of year.”
Nature Strip, who started the $3.30 favourite, bombed the start for jockey James McDonald from the inside barrier but such is his natural speed, he burned through to lead and then kicked strongly on the home turn.
He looked set for a clear win until he started to get the wobbles late when the Bendigo mare Miss Leonidas ($31) lunged but just missed after enduring a tough wide run.
The triple group 1 winner Sunlight ($6) looked to be struggling before the turn but found again to finish third.
Waller was criticized after Nature Strip’s first-up defeat in Sydney when he tried to get the horse to relax early, but he said he did not have any clear instructions before the Moir.
‘’I didn’t give James any instructions,’’ he said. ‘’Just do what you think its best and don’t try to fire him up.
‘’It’s a bitter pill to take when you don’t quite get it right so I think this is a good reward for everybody and I hope the punters had something on and got a bit back from last start when apparently I did everything wrong.’’