Where To Now For Nature Strip?

Few horses have polarised public opinion as much as Nature Strip, you either find yourself in #TeamSuperstar or #TeamSquib.

Nature Strip winning the Rubiton Stakes
Nature Strip winning the Rubiton Stakes Picture: Racing and Sports


No question it was a win for #TeamSuperstar on the weekend after Nature Strip spaced his rivals on debut for the Chris Waller stable.

In 13 starts he has notched up nine wins, five trainers and returned a new career peak, now rated 123 by Timeform.

With such an imposing record, it is not likely a question of 'if' Nature Strip will win a Group 1, but more so of 'when'.

The decision to run on Saturday ruled out a tilt at this Saturday's Group 1 Lightning Stakes [1000m], with the Oakleigh Plate now the expected path.

However is this the right decision?

A lot of the time in racing, we find ourselves jumping at shadows, making determinations out of what is more likely just noise.

Tom Melbourne never wins, until he finds himself in a very winnable race. How could you back ex-Darren Weir horses, until they win three of the nine races on C.F. Orr Stakes Day.

So while you don't want to read too much into what could be just coincidence/variance, there does appear a glaring pattern in Nature Strip's form profile - a pattern that hints at two versions of Nature Strip. A Jekyll and a Hyde. A hot and a cold.

The table below shows the form/ratings of Nature Strip when greater than three weeks between runs (the hot version we saw on Saturday) and then when less than three weeks between runs (the cold version that we saw fall out the back of the telly in last spring's Moir Stakes).
 

Hot Vs Cold
Hot Vs Cold

 

Nature Strip has still managed to win twice among those cold runs, however his ratings have declined, with his four best wins coming off 54 days, 49 days, 42 days and 134 days between runs.

His declines (cold runs) have been 8, 0, 6 and 17lbs - on average a near 8lbs drop. That hardly fills us with confidence going towards the Oakleigh Plate in just two weeks. 

Without question he is fast enough to win an Oakleigh Plate and is clearly the horse to beat on Saturday's effort, however it can be suggested that he is likely to come off that performance and not run up to his peak.

The Group 1 Newmarket [1200m] would leave Nature Strip with four weeks between runs, a more pattern pleasing target, better yet the Group 1 Galaxy [1100m] is a further two weeks away (42 days) - the perceived sweet spot.

While the Mexicans won't want to hear it, Nature Strip is now Sydney's own and a Group 1 handicap on his home track, over 1100m looks very very tempting.

 


Racing and Sports



Caulfield

Saturday, 09th February 2019

4
14:20
(local)

Rubiton Stakes (G2)

Type: OPEN
AUD $201,000
1100m TURF GOOD
4
14:20
(local)
AUD $201,000
1100m GOOD

Rubiton Stakes (G2)

Type: OPEN
FP Silk Horse, Age & Sex
Sire & Dam
Jockey
Trainer
SP
WT
1st 2. NATURE STRIP (AUS) 4yo G
NICCONI (AUS) - STRIKELINE (AUS)
DAMIAN LANE
CHRIS WALLER
$1.73
57.5kg
R A E Lyons, P D Harrison, P N Kean, S W Hansen, G L Smith, J P Van Duuren, P J Balderstone, K C Garland, D McCluskey, C A Bennett, G D Dumesny, F Giampaolo, Ms D J McShane, T G McHenry & D J Slocum

Sales Information

2nd 3. JUNGLE EDGE (AUS) 8yo G
DUBAWI (IRE) - JUNGLE GIRL (NZ)
DYLAN DUNN
MICK BELL
$11.00
56.0kg
I D Dunkley, Mrs M D Strickland, G K Wilson, Mrs J I Wilson, Mrs B J Bell, P J Bow, Mrs J A Hayes, J A Hayes, J M Conroy, B A Conroy, P Orlandi, I Daire, M A Bell, M J Holt & Mrs Y I Knowles
3rd 4. THERMAL CURRENT (AUS) 8yo G
EXCEED AND EXCEL (AUS) - SOARESSA (AUS)
DWAYNE DUNN
MATHEW ELLERTON & SIMON ZAHRA
$26.00
56.0kg
Contract Racing Pty Ltd (Mgr: Mrs J S Moodie), N S Psaltis, Mrs G C Psaltis, W J Peterson, T Jovanovski, Ms J Meagher, Mrs P A Donnelly, W S Pelchen & T N Porter

Sales Information

4th 1. VOODOO LAD (AUS) 7yo G
I AM INVINCIBLE (AUS) - O'FORTUNA (AUS)
DAMIEN OLIVER
CIARON MAHER & DAVID EUSTACE
$3.75
58.5kg

Sales Information

5th 5. ILLUSTRIOUS LAD (AUS) 7yo G
I AM INVINCIBLE (AUS) - INDUSTRIOUS (AUS)
ANTHONY DARMANIN
PETER GELAGOTIS
$11.00
56.0kg

Sales Information

6th 8. TAVISAN (NZ) 3yo C
TAVISTOCK (NZ) - EVANESCENCE (NZ)
MICHAEL DEE
MICK PRICE
$11.00
53.0kg

Sales Information

Simon Dinopoulos

Senior Handicapper | Vice President of Data Integrity

Sydney-born Simon Dinopoulos joined Racing and Sports' as a form analyst in 2012.

Under the tutelage of Gary Crispe and Adam Blencowe, Simon has quickly established himself as a respected member of the R&S ratings team, with a key focus on NSW, Western Australia and Singapore.

As a journalist he contributes stories for the R&S website, while also priding himself on being a part of the data management sector. Simon has helped establish and maintain Racing And Sports’ global database – the most comprehensive privately owned racing database in the world.

Simon can be heard on Sky Sports Radio - Racings HQ (Friday/Saturday mornings) giving his selections for the weekend's racing.