Waller eyes fresh start for sprinting star

Trainer Chris Waller wants a fresh start in the new year and is focused on getting Nature Strip back to his best on the home front before contemplating any overseas tilts in 2021.

Nature Strip wrapped up a rollercoaster preparation with his best performance of an underachieving spring in Saturday’s Darley Sprint Classic when he was runner-up to the ultra impressive Bivouac at Flemington.

Godolphin were quick to announce plans to take on the world with Bivouac after the triumph with Dubai and Royal Ascot both on the agenda for their star sprinter.

What a remarkable win. Bivouac EXPLODES to win the G1 Darley Sprint Classic. 😮 @Godolphin pic.twitter.com/JbgwP2MUsN

Waller was eyeing similar targets in England at this time last year when Nature Strip dominated in the same race before the coronavirus pandemic brought those plans unstuck.

Twelve months on, the son of Nicconi – which was named Australia’s best racehorse for 2019/20 – has struggled to reach the same heights in four starts this spring.

The six-year-old has battled allergies during a forgettable spring which also included a barrier trial mishap that saw regular jockey James McDonald unseated.

Waller is keen to put the preparation behind him and is determined to see Nature Strip back to his best in 2021.

“The autumn comes first, we have good prize money here so we want to get him back winning and look at (overseas) after that,” Waller said.

“He showed last autumn that he came good in the autumn and I am just think his allergies might settle down. a bit a way from the hay fever season.

“It’s obvious that allergies are rife amongst people and horses I don’t think are much different.”

Chris Waller looks over one of his horses. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Nature Strip was found to have a degree of mucus in his trachea after being beaten in the Premiere Stakes before he finished seventh in The Everest at his next start.

He led the field up down the Flemington straight in Saturday’s Group 1 assignment but was picked up quickly by a flying Bivouac before holding off the remaining challengers over the final furlong.

“He ran terrific on Saturday and certainly wasn’t far off his best,” Waller said.

“It was full credit to the winner of course. I think things just didn’t work out at the start of the preparation.

“Things went pear shaped and I am looking to starting off fresh with him in the autumn.

“If we can get him back to 100% he will be winning again.”

Toffee Tongue (NZ) heads to the barriers. Photo: George Salpigtidis/Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

It wasn’t Waller’s day on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival with classy mare Toffee Tongue narrowly missing out in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes.

The Group 1 winning mare raced without luck when finishing third but Waller will set his sights high again when she returns next year.

“She had no luck and probably should have won,” Waller said.

“She is not ready for the 2400m which is why she failed in the Caulfield Cup but she showed she is up to winning some good races so it will be Australian Cup or Ranvet in the autumn.”

Originally published asWaller eyes fresh start for Nature Strip

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