Waller prepares to unleash force of Nature
The presence of Nature Strip has scared off rivals with just five horses nominated to take him on in the Group Three Concorde Stakes at Randwick.
The Australian Turf Club has extended entries until Tuesday after fellow Everest slot holder Gytrash, Ball Of Muscle, Splintex, Fiesta and Dirty Work were the only other nominations for the race.
An early favourite for the $15 million The Everest, Nature Strip has not raced since his blistering T J Smith Stakes triumph in March.
On resumption last preparation he was beaten as favourite over 1000 metres in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington but Waller expects no such issues at Randwick.
“The 1000 up the straight is a little different to 1000 around a bend,” Waller said.
Nature Strip has at times brought himself undone by over-racing but he appeared a more settled horse last campaign, stringing together outstanding performances in the Challenge Stakes and T J Smith.
He is being timed to peak for the Everest in mid-October but Waller says that is unlikely to stop the free-flowing frontrunner in the Concorde.
“We will have the breaks on but I don’t know if they will work,” Waller said.
Gytrash will make his Sydney debut in the short-course feature.
The South Australian sprinter was responsible for an upset result when he claimed the scalp of Nature Strip in the Lightning and he showed it was no fluke with another three Group One autumn placings.
Waller has 11 of the 23 entries for the Group Two Chelmsford Stakes including Kinane, Brimham Rocks and Finche.
Finche was fifth first up in the corresponding race last year and went on to finish seventh as favourite in the Melbourne Cup.
Waller says the horse will follow a similar route this time around and can again be competitive on Saturday with Kathy O’Hara aboard.
“He has been in work for a long time so he is naturally pretty fit,” Waller said.
“I think he will run a cheeky race over a mile but he will be harder to beat second up over 2000 metres.”
Waller’s exciting filly Hungry Heart heads the 16 entries for the Furious Stakes (1200m), while there are 19 gallopers in the mix for the Tramway Stakes (1400m), including Australian Oaks winner Colette, who is also among the Chelmsford nominations.