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Ad Nature Strip winning the 2021 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning from a fast-finishing stablemate in September Run. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

Sprint king back at Flemington

17 February 2023 Written by VRC

Nature Strip looking for his second win in the world's highest rated sprint race, the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning.

The eight-year-old is now acknowledged as the best sprinter in the world, one of the greatest sprinters of all time and Australia’s best present-day racehorse.

Last year, he demolished his much-vaunted international rivals at Royal Ascot to win the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes by four-and-a-half lengths. So impressive was his victory that the Racing Post ranked it as the ‘Performance Of The Week’ for Royal Ascot 2022.

At the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings in early 2023, Nature Strip was ranked the equal third-best horse in the world alongside star Japanese three-year-old Equinox at 126.

Both horses were eclipsed by the William Haggas-trained Baaeed (135) who was second to unbeaten American galloper, Flightline. He achieved a rating of 140, the highest rating achieved by a dirt horse since Cigar in 1996 and equals the mark set by the undefeated Frankel who has since retired to stand at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.

Nature Strip’s win in the King’s Stand Stakes at was his ninth Group 1 win and his 21st win of 38 starts. Upon his return to Australia, he added the Group 2 The Shorts at Randwick to take his win tally to 22.

James McDonald salutes as Nature Strip easily wins the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot 2022. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

His biggest Group 1 wins include three T.J. Smith Stakes (2020, 2021, 2022) at Randwick and at Flemington two VRC Sprint Classics (2019 and 2021) and the 2021 Black Caviar Lightning.

In terms of prizemoney, he has won $20,600,008 with only Winx in front of him in Australian racing history.

Nature Strip is by Widden Stud Victoria stallion Nicconi, who was also victorious in the 2010 Group 1 Lightning Stakes, before heading to Royal Ascot and running fourth in the King’s Stand Stakes.

Nature Strip has a developed a love affair for the Flemington straight. His overall Flemington record now stands at ten starts for six wins, three seconds and a fourth.

One of those minor placings was in this race last year, finishing second to stablemate Home Affairs. The race was declared the best sprint race in the world at the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Nature Strip defeats Roch 'N' Horse (L) with September Run back in third during a jump out up the Flemington straight in preparation for the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning. (Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

The second highest rated race in the world? The Group 1 Darley Champions Sprint of which Nature Strip finished a close-up second to dual Group 1-winning mare, Roch ‘N’ Horse. The two featured in a jump out at Flemington on February 10 and will line up for Saturday’s Group 1 feature in what shapes to be a fantastic edition on the race.

Jockey James McDonald will be back on board as he attempts to deliver Nature Strip his tenth Group 1 success, an achievement that looked unfathomable early in his career considering his aggressive racing pattern.

There is little doubt Nature Strip sits in the upper echelon of Australia’s greatest sprinters and his name sits alongside recent greats such as Black Caviar and Chautauqua.

Although he is now eight, he hasn’t been over-raced and the likelihood is that he will only enhance what has already been a magical career under the care of Waller, who always does the right thing by his horses.

Video above: Jump Out from February 10 below featuring Nature Strip, Roch 'N' Horse and September Run.

Don't miss out on your chance to witness history as the world's best sprinter takes on all challengers in the world's best sprint race at Flemington on Saturday 18 February. Find out more and book your tickets to Black Caviar Lightning Race Day.

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