Nature Strip is pushing hard for a slot in The Everest. Picture: AAP
Nature Strip is pushing hard for a slot in The Everest. Picture: AAP

Strip tease: Speedster shows Everest potential

THREE confirmed Everest runners trialled nicely at Rosehill Gardens on Tuesday but it was Nature Strip that really staked his claim to get a slot in the $14 million race.

Redzel, looking to win his third Everest, won the opening trial over 1000m in 58.10 seconds. Nature Strip cruised up behind him late to run half-a-length second.

It's highly unlikely he would be picked up by Coolmore or Godolphin, who want one of their horses running in their slot, so that leaves James Harron as the only other slot holder without a runner.

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Nature Strip's ability to run a strong 1200m has always been in question but under the guidance of Chris Waller it's obvious that he's becoming the real deal and jockey James McDonald agreed.

"He's really improved out of sight," McDonald said. "He didn't even look like pulling. He got into his work and finished off very nicely behind them. He wasn't fully extended so there's a bit more left up the sleeve."

Kerrin McEvoy will ride Redzel first-up in the Concord Stakes (1000m) on September 7 at Randwick but hasn't fully committed to riding him in The Everest just yet after his below par autumn.

"He had his blinkers on and Peter and Paul (Snowden) wanted him to get out sharp and have a good solid hitout," McEvoy said. "He still showed his willing attitude."

McDonald also rode Everest contender Arcadia Queen and she ran second in her 893m heat and looked very good under a hold.

"She's a beautiful mare," McDonald said. "She travelled very well behind the leaders and just breezed up the straight so I was very happy with her."

Her stablemate Enticing Star, who runs in Chris Waller's Everest slot, also impressed at her first public outing since arriving in Sydney. She won her 1000m trial in comfortable fashion but ran two second slower than Redzel which wasn't surprising considering how the trials were run.

Night's Watch ran second to Enticing Star while he's not an Everest contender, he looked sensational and is one for the punters to keep in mind when he resumes in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, breeding giant Darley announced on Tuesday that it would sponsor the Princess Series for a further three years. The Princess Series is run over four races in the Sydney spring and is for three-year-old fillies only.

Meantime, Nakeeta Jane's racing future remains uncertain with the Group 1-winning mare out for at least six months because of injury.

Her trainer Mark Newnham says the four-year-old has a fractured sesamoid with the stable suffering a second blow with stalwart Lanciato also out for the spring after suffering a bleeding attack.

Nakeeta Jane pulled up lame after a gallop on Monday ahead of her scheduled return in the Show County Quality at Randwick on Saturday while Lanciato bled during trackwork on Tuesday, incurring an automatic three-month ban.

"Josh (Parr) came out to ride Nakeeta Jane and she had just galloped on the course proper at Warwick Farm and five minutes later she was lame," Newnham told Sky Sports Radio.

Nakeeta Jane will miss the spring due to injury. Picture: Getty Images
Nakeeta Jane will miss the spring due to injury. Picture: Getty Images

"She will have five or six months off at least. If it looks like she's coming up again then she could race in the late autumn or the Brisbane winter.

"If that doesn't look like it will work out she'll be off to stud."

Nakeeta Jane, successful in the Surround Stakes, was one of two Group One winners last season for Newnham who has been training for three years after spending a long time with Gai Waterhouse before she formed a partnership with Adrian Bott.

Maid Of Heaven, another three-year-old filly in 2018/19, won the Spring Champion Stakes but has been retired to her owner John Messara's Arrowfield Stud.

Former New Zealand-trained Lanciato was Newnham's first runner when he gained his licence in mid-2016.