Nature Strip to win Everest slot
NATURE Strip, the exciting Victorian sprinter, will be confirmed as a starter in the $13 million The TAB Everest early this week.
It is understood slot-holder Australian Turf Club, Nature Strip's syndicate of owners and trainer Darren Weir have reached an agreement to start the sprinter in the world's richest turf race at Royal Randwick on October 13.
The deal was done after Nature Strip won the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley last Saturday, albeit narrowly but in track record time.
The announcement that Nature Strip has secured an Everest start is expected on Tuesday.
Rod Lyons, the syndicate representative, was in Fiji over the weekend but returns on Monday and will sign The Everest contract subject to Nature Strip passing a full veterinary check that includes a throat examination.
Nature Strip will be the 11th horse selected for The Everest leaving slot-holders Max Whitby and Neil Werrett having to choose their sprinter to complete the field.
Weir declared Nature Strip the "fastest horse I've trained" after the four-year-old ran the Moonee Valley 1000m in a brilliant 56.95sec and holding off the late surge of Houtzen with Everest runner Shoals nearly four lengths away third.
"There will be people querying (Nature Strip) at 1200m but with this under his belt and another good, solid run in the Moir Stakes, I think we'll be right,'' Weir said after the race.
"The speed that they went, he was going to be found wanting late.''
Nature Strip, who has won eight of his 11 starts including his last four in succession, is at $9 in early TAB Fixed Odds betting on The Everest.
Redzel, last year's inaugural Everest winner, is the new favourite at $5 after Trapeze Artist eased from $4.50 to $6 after his third in the Theo Mark Stakes behind Home Of The Brave.
Trapeze Artist shouldered 61kg first-up on a heavy track and his effort to close late for third pleased jockey Tye Angland and trainer Gerald Ryan.
Home Of The Brave has emerged as a candidate for the final Everest slot with the Godolphin sprinter firming from $51 to $13.