Nature’s way: Harron locks in Everest pick
LEADING trainer Chris Waller had no doubts that Nature Strip deserved his spot in The Everest (1200m) after James Harron announced the sprinter would run in his slot in the $14 million race.
Harron, who won the first running of Australia's richest race with Redzel in 2017, said the way the race looks to map on paper influenced his decision.
"We have been playing the waiting game and the time came to make our move," Harron said.
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"Nature Strip is one of the most exciting and talked about sprinters in the country.
"He's a horse with a bit of X-factor and, importantly for us, is proven on all track conditions and is an on-speed runner in a race which so far looks lacking in such types."
Waller said he felt privileged to be asked by Harron if his horse could run for him on October 19 at Randwick for what will be the third edition of what's now Sydney racing's biggest day.
"I think it's well deserved and it's good to be selected by a good judge who has a good record in the race," Waller said.
Nature Strip has won 11 of his 18 starts, including Group 1 victories in The Galaxy and last start in the Moir Stakes. They were over 1100m and 1000m and the question mark over the five-year-old has always been his ability to run out a strong 1200m.
Waller has done everything he can to help him relax in his races and even though riding him off the speed didn't quite work first-up in the Concorde Stakes, he ran less than three lengths off Redzel.
Last start at Mooney Valley, Waller's team decided to let him use his speed to lead them in the straight and he held off Miss Leonidas and fellow Everest runner Sunlight.
"I think everybody knows, including myself, that he likes to roll along and he's actually settling better," Waller said.
"So, yes, he'll roll along (in the Everest) but he will settle this year. In previous years he was getting to the front and charging but now he's getting the front and relaxing.
"He's won over 1200m up the straight (at Flemington), he can handle all track conditions and he's come back in great condition."
Waller said he wouldn't have a huge say in who will ride Nature Strip.
"I'll leave it to the owners and slot holder and I won't be hard to please," he said.
Waller also wouldn't comment on which horse would run in his Everest slot, although it's expected his top colt Yes Yes Yes would be selected.
"It's imminent and we're going for a form horse," Waller said. "I've still got to speak to a few people."
Alizee top seed for Everest slot
"There's your Everest horse".
That's what Kerrin McEvoy told Godolphin's Darren Beadman and Vin Cox after galloping Alizee between races at Randwick on Wednesday.
"She had a good action. I had her contained in behind (Deprive) and if you give her an inch, she takes a mile," McEvoy said.
Alizee and stablemate Deprive galloped over 1000m with the three-time Group 1 winner finishing a head in front and covering the last 600m in 33.03 seconds which was wind assisted.
Beadman was wearing a big smile after the gallop by the hulking James Cummings-trained mare who has the ability to go through her gears very quickly on firm ground.
With Osborne Bulls sent to the paddock for a spell after pulling up lame in the Premiere Stakes last Saturday it looks like Alizee has her nose in front in the race to Godolphin's Everest slot.
"She's a lethal weapon. She's just a powerhouse," Beadman said. "She looked to be cruising along nicely and James wouldn't have wanted her to do much more than that. She's got had a pipe opener and got the feel of Randwick again after running down in Melbourne."
The five-year-old went down to Caulfield to run third behind Scales Of Justice in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes but the Godolphin team always knew she would be at her best a run later and it looks like it will come in the $14 million Everest.
"The thing that's impressed me most since she came back from Melbourne is her coat. She did really well down there but went down looking like she needed improvement," Beadman said. "She's come back here looking ready to shine. Her coat is glowing which is encouraging.
"She's had five wins at Randwick. An Everest is no gimmie and you've just got to have the right horse on the right day and be in the right spot."
Tommy Berry gave multiple Group 1 winner and crowd favourite Happy Clapper a 1000m track gallop before Alizee's work, and the Pat Webster-trained veteran looked fantastic.
He next races in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) on Everest day after running third last start in the Group 1 George Main Stakes.
Berry struggled to stop the nine-year-old as he powered through the line.
"He felt great and he's definitely come on," Berry said. "I thought I was going another lap after the post. He saw the pony and eased up on me which was nice.
"He's in great order and feels like he's a three-year-old. He's very happy."