The Everest favourite Nature Strip motors in second barrier trial

Everest favourite Nature Strip stepped out in his second trial on Tuesday morning as he gears up for a bumper spring carnival for trainer Chris Waller and jockey James McDonald.

Nature Strip was in a league of his own in the 900m barrier trial and he gapped them to win by 5½ lengths from Fituse.

The Nicconi six-year-old completed the course in 54.69 seconds with a final 600m in 35.73 seconds and he’s ready to race now.

Sky Racing’s Ron Dufficy described him as “a machine” and was “special to watch” as he went through his gears and completed his fine work.

He's absolutely airborne!! #TABEverest favourite Nature Strip blew them away in his trial this morning with @mcacajamez barely moving a muscle on top of him 😱 @cwallerracing @tabcomau

After a fourth placing to Gytrash in the Lightning Stakes (1000m) first-up last preparation Nature Strip took all before him in winning the Group 2 Challenge Stakes before coming out in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes and hammering them by two lengths.

He’s expected to start his campaign on September 5 in the Group 3 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Randwick.

He’s currently a dominant $3 favourite for The Everest (1200m) in October.

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Godolphin’s dual Group 1-winning sprinter Bivouac looked in outstanding order with a consummate barrier trial win at Hawkesbury on Monday.

Hall of Fame jockey Hugh Bowman made the trek out to the far-western Sydney racetrack to put Bivouac through his paces and despite being three-wide throughout the trial, the four-year-old entire cruised clear in the straight to win his 800m heat by a length in 48.2s.

Bivouac, winner of the Golden Rose and Newmarket Handicap last season, is considered the number one seed for Godolphin’s slot in the $15 million The TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 17.

In early TAB Fixed Odds betting for The Everest, Bivouac is on the third line of betting at $11 behind Nature Strip ($3 favourite) and Classique Legend ($9).

Trainer James Cummings has indicated Bivouac is likely to resume racing in the Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick on September 16.

He said it was a fair assessment for Bivouac to be ranked the number one seed for Godolphin’s The Everest slot.

“I‘m happy with how he’s ticking over. We haven’t made any firm plans but we do like the look of The Shorts (Randwick, September 19),” Cummings said on the weekend.

Bivouac wins the Newmarket earlier this year, with jockey Glenn Boss aboard.Source:Getty Images


Gai Waterhouse is attempting to claim one of the few feature Sydney races to elude during her celebrated training career with US-bound Con Te Partiro in the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Waterhouse, who trains in partnership with Adrian Bott, has never prepared the winner of the Winx (formerly Warwick Stakes), a race where her late father Tommy Smith holds training record with 10 wins. Her best results have been second placings with Pornichet (2015), So Assertive (2004) and Stony Bay (1995).

But Waterhouse and Bott believe Con Te Partiro can pick up where she left off last autumn where she was successive twice at Group 1 level in the Coolmore Classic and Queen of the Turf Stakes when she resumes against what is shaping as a star-studded Winx Stakes field.

Con Te Partiro will start her spring campaign in the Winx Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“I thought she trialled up excellent,’’ Bott said of Con Te Partiro’s second behind Prague in a Kensingon barrier trial last Friday.

“If we get these (wet) track conditions as well, that’s ideal for her. We have tried to have her more forward this time around for her first-up run.’’

Bott confirmed Con Te Partiro is likely to contest the George Main Stakes and Epsom Handicap this spring carnival before she heads to America to contest the US Breeders Cup series – unless the coronavirus pandemic derails those ambitions.

“That‘s still the long-range plan but we put in nominations for all the majors here as well,“ Bott said.

“She holds a Cox Plate entry and all those types of races in case something happens. We do have a back-up plan.’’

Waterhouse and Bott have also entered stayer Wolfe for the Winx Stakes which has attracted 20 entries including 10 individual Group 1 winners – Con Te Partiro, Avilius, Dreamforce, Fierce Impact, Flit, Funstar, Kolding, Melody Belle, The Bostonian and Verry Elleegant.


– Ray Thomas

Boom stayer Master Of Wine has the race distance range versatility that reminds jockey Tommy Berry of all-time great Winx.

“I honestly believe Master Of Wine is good enough to be competitive in whatever Team Hawkes wants to run him in this spring,’’ Berry said.

“If they kept him fresh, he could win an Epsom but if they trained him to run 2000m or 3200m, he can do that, too.

Jockey Tommy Berry has high praise for Master Of Wine.Source:AAP

“I’m not putting him in the class of Winx but she was a bit the same when it came to versatility. She could run over run over 1200m and be impressive and go over 2000m and be just as impressive.

“Master Of Wine is one of those types of horses that can perform well for any race they are trained for.’’

Berry’s lofty prediction gets put to an immediate test at Royal Randwick next Saturday when Master Of Wine becomes the latest potential spring carnival contender to roll off the Hawkes stable production line when he resumes in the first Group 1 race of the new season, the aptly-named Winx Stakes (1400m).

The Winx Stakes is going to attract an outstanding field with Chris Waller expected to nominate glamour mares Funstar and Verry Elleegant as well as stablemates Imaging, Kolding, Mister Sea Wolf and Star Of The Seas, while Group 1 winners Melody Belle, Con Te Partiro, Dreamforce, Avilius, Flit, Fierce Impact and The Bostonian, plus emerging gallopers like Brandenburg will also be among the nominations.

Master Of Wine, who is due to barrier trial at Rosehill Gardens on Tuesday ahead of his comeback in the Winx Stakes, demonstrated his versatility last autumn winning brilliantly first-up at 1400m before racing away with the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) prior to a luckless fourth in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).

Berry aboard Master of Wine during a recent jumpout. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Berry rode Master Of Wine in a recent barrier trial and believes the lightly-raced English import is set to be a major player this spring.

“Without the blinkers last campaign he was very laid-back and didn’t give you much of a feel until they went on but in the trial the other day it was game on even without the blinkers which is very encouraging for me,’’ Berry said.

“You know he is going to go to another level with the blinkers on in the Winx Stakes next Saturday.

“He was very good over 1400m first-up last preparation and then he ran such a good race in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes against some world-class 2000m horses. I’m excited to be riding Master Of Wine.’’


Master Of Wine is out to continue the promising start to the new season for the training partnership of Hall of Famer John Hawkes and his sons, Michael and Wayne, who boast real depth in their carnival ranks this spring highly promising three-year-olds including North Pacific, a runaway winner of the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes at Randwick last Saturday.

North Pacific has vaulted to $4.50 favouritism for the Group 1 $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 26 but one of his main rivals is unbeaten stablemate Doubtland, who will also barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday.

The Hawkes stable would also be encouraged by the comeback runs of Masked Crusader (second to Varda) and Angel Of Truth (second to Man Of Peace) in their Randwick returns last Saturday.

Masked Crusader, first-up on a very heavy track, reeled off the fastest 600m of the day when he closed his race off with a 34.92s sectional. Varda’s time of 35.14s was the next quickest sectional split at the Randwick meeting.

James McDonald has already ridden Nature Strip to a barrier trial win this prep. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


The Everest favourite Nature Strip has another barrier trial hitout at Rosehill Gardens on Tuesday morning ahead of his likely comeback in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Royal Randwick on September 5.

Nature Strip has nine rivals in his 900m course proper heat including Fituesse, Hungry Heart, Kinane, Kubrick and Riodini.

Another must-watch trial is heat nine over 900m where unbeaten three-year-olds Peltzer (Gerald Ryan) and Doubtland (Team Hawkes) are due to clash.

Originally published asNature Strip motors in trial, daylight second

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