With the Australian Turf Club expected to announce Nature Strip as their runner in The Everest, sectionals analyst Vince Accardi has evaluated whether the boom sprinter is a genuine chance or just making up the numbers.
Darren Weir’s boom sprinter has been the most talked about horse in racing, outside the champion mare Winx, and on Saturday put forward his claims for The Everest with a record-breaking win in Saturday’s Group II McEwen Stakes (1000m).
Nature Strip stopped the clock in a sizzling 56.95 seconds, defeating The Everest contender Shoals by close to four lengths in the process.
However, conjecture still rages between racing fans as to whether the performance has warranted a start in the richest race on turf over 1200m, a furlong further than Saturday’s McEwen Stakes.
“Nature Strip would be one of the fastest horses in the world at the moment over 1000m,” Accardi said.
“It was a stunning performance on Saturday.
“From a 1000m perspective I can be very confident that Nature Strip has produced a higher performance than last year’s Everest champion Redzel.”
So, does the performance warrant a spot in The Everest and is he a genuine winning chance? Accardi has his reservations.
“At this stage there still has to be question marks at 1200m,” he said.
“They would have to get him to relax a lot more, a lot of people are saying he can but in a race such as The Everest it is very difficult when he is stepping up in distance.
“Some were criticising the margin back to Houtzen in second but there’s little doubt she has improved two lengths from last campaign on that run.
“The difference between the two was the way Nature Strip was softening up late.
“I don’t know how Nature Strip can go out in genuinely run 1200m Everest and still be there in the finish.
“Darren Weir knows what he is doing and there has to be a reason he is still targeting 1000m races, because he knows this is the best 1000m horse in the country.
“Maybe another season, things might be different – he’ll be more mature, more seasoned – it could be a whole different ball game.”
If Nature Strip is taken up by the ATC then that will leave just the one slot left, owned by Max Whitby.
Accardi indicated he wouldn’t be surprised if Saturday’s Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) winner Home Of The Brave filled he final position.
Defending champion Redzel currently holds favouritism at $5.50 with Sportsbet while Nature Strip is on the fourth line of betting at $8 and Home Of The Brave quoted at $16.