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Long live the king: Can Nature Strip take out The Everest?

James McDonald on Nature Strip salutes after winning The Everest at Royal Randwick Racecourse. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
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13th October, 2022

Royal Randwick – Race 7 – The Tab Everest – 1200m – $15 Million – Heavy 8 – Special Conditions

Well, I have watched this race play out in my head hundreds of times since the barriers were finalised last night at 8:15pm. Interesting race.

Even more so the fact we currently remain on a heavy track, a track where jockeys approached stewards halfway through the meeting last Saturday to inform them that most jockeys were going to steer their mounts 5-6 horses off the rail in several parts of the track as the ground was inferior and potentially dangerous.

Why is this relevant? Well, it is Wednesday, it’s still a heavy 8, it’s raining, and I believe anything drawn inside 6 or 7 will be railing like greyhounds the first 200m to get a spot off the rail. So, what does this mean? Well, it isn’t a Group 1, but I expect the same frenetic pace associated with most Group 1s in the early stages. The race shape and running line after the first 200m will potentially decide the fate for most runners.

Let’s start with the defending champion, the world jet-setter, the highest time rater in the field, the king, Nature Strip. Drawing the outside barrier (barrier 12) for most runners in most events regardless of grade or distance, is usually an issue.

Not for Nature Strip. Barrier 12 means he can stay on the better going, he can stay out of the ruck, and all going well lead them a merry dance or sit one out one back. Could be all over at the furlong. He just needs to jump cleanly.

One of my three small concerns with Nature Strip is his barrier manners. He has bombed the start several times costing him victory over the journey, hopefully Saturday he jumps with them.

James McDonald on Nature Strip salutes after winning The Everest at Royal Randwick Racecourse.

James McDonald on Nature Strip salutes after winning The Everest at Royal Randwick Racecourse. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)


The second concern is the different campaign leading into this event. The Royal Ascot barrier trial victory hasn’t been associated with previous preparations and really he is only second-up Saturday instead of the traditional third or fourth-up peak run. This can also be a positive with the residual fitness from an English summer/Australian winter campaign.

Third concern is a combination of the above. The horses inside barrier 6-7 all wanting to rail up and get a spot in the better going and/or a slow jump, resulting in him using too much petrol in the early stages crossing or hunting for a spot. This could leave him vulnerable late. Potentially he may be cast like Wilson with Tom Hanks for the duration and with less runs in the legs this time in could come against him.

Lost And Running is the biggest danger to Nature Strip. Was fat as Albert in the yard last start but was still too good in the shadows against a decent field. This year’s The Everest isn’t an after-thought, and the now six-year-old has furnished into a magnificent beast.

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Barrier 7 is ideal and he excels in the soft and heavy conditions. His win at Newcastle at the back end of the spring last year and his devastating turn of foot still replays in my head. If any of those concerns with Nature Strip eventuate, Lost And Running will be there to put his name in lights. Peaks here third-up and is a real danger.

Eduardo, a warrior that has beaten Nature Strip four times, is another where the start is crucial. I don’t think the nine-year-old can win tracking Nature Strip, but his best option is to jump from barrier 9, lead, and control the tempo. His best runs have been fresh on pace, but he will be competitive as always regardless of his position in transit.


Three-year-olds Giga Kick and Jacquinot have merit to their cases.

Completely different form guides but both are serious chances on time, ratings, weight, and recent performances.

Jacquinot’s Golden Rose win was outrageous and one of the most ridiculous wins I have ever seen with the form franked since (Golden Mile – Caulfield Guineas), while Giga Kick remains undefeated displaying toughness and grit.

1400m back to 1200m for Jacquinot is some concern but this has been the target despite the 100 other options available, while Giga Kick needs to take the next step.

Private Eye, who doesn’t owe me a cent and is part owned by my work (Everest Luncheon Friday, baby!) can come into calculations if they leave the kettle on up front.


1. Nature Strip 10 units the win ($2)

3. Lost And Running 3 units the win ($8)