Darley Sprint Classic (Group 1)

SENT out a $1.25 favourite in the Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic, Nature Strip was barely tested across Flemington’s ‘straight six’ cruising home by over three lengths to claim his seventh Group 1 and second success in this race.

“He certainly is breathtaking,” said trainer Chris Waller who was at Flemington. “Last spring didn’t go to plan and his best run of the spring was here when he ran second behind Bivouac.

“Two years ago we blew them away and he’s been up a while, he’s done a great job. His win last start (the Everest) was unbelievable and to bounce off that, he’s done an amazing job and what more can I say about James McDonald plus my whole team. They do a fantastic job behind the scenes. I’m very proud.”

The seven year-old Nicconi gelding with James McDonald up defeated the Shamus Award mare Swats That, with the Pride Of Dubai mare Bella Nipotina third.

“He’s just been in the zone. He’s been harnessing it,” said 29-year-old McDonald. “Today, Chris only gave me one instruction. He said ‘treat it like a Tuesday gallop: four, home two’. As easy as that. Just point and steer.”

Nature Strip will now be spelled with Waller keen to return in the autumn (next spring here) and perhaps look at overseas options if the owners are willing.

The team had sought to go to Ascot the past two years before being derailed by Covid.