Nature Strip storms to victory in the King's Stand Stakes
Nature Strip absolutely blew the King’s Stand Stakes field apart with an imperious display.
The race was billed as a clash between the successful Australian and the American Golden Pal – but when the latter ruined his chance with a tardy start, there was only one horse in it.
By halfway Chris Waller’s Nature Strip was in front and as the race went on the 9-4 winner drew further and further clear, eventually beating Twilight Calls by a wide margin to provide Australia with a first Royal Ascot win since Black Caviar 10 years ago.
James McDonald, riding his second Royal Ascot winner, said: “That was incredible, the team have done a marvellous job.
“I’m so lucky to be on him and he’s just an absolute freak of a horse. I think he’s silenced a few critics with that performance because it was scintillating.
“I didn’t know the riderless horse was riderless and I was thinking ‘how has one come with him?’. He was just incredible.
“I saw the American horse charge through, at the two pole I was thinking ‘are you going to come?’, but he had no response. It was the riderless horse who gave me a fright.”
Waller, who trained superstar mare Winx, said: “It means a lot. We don’t get the chance to race against the English, the Irish and even Americans today an awful lot.
“It’s pretty special to bring a horse all this way and compete against the best in the world and to win the way he did.
“It was breathtaking, it was a good display and he’s a very good horse. He has been for a long time.
“I guess he’s in the twilight of his career, but he’s learned to be a racehorse now as he was tricky early on. It’s an honour to train him.
“Going international is very important to showcase our breed in Australia and of course he’s one of the highest-rated horses in the world and it’s stacked up.
“We’ll see how he is after this and we’ll make a decision later in the week on whether he runs in the Platinum Jubilee (on Saturday).
“This is definitely in the top five wins I’ve ever had.”