Ratings guru and professional punter Daniel O’Sullivan has suggested it may be time to stop the Nature Strip experiment after Saturday’s flop in the $160,000 G3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick.
Despite clearly having superior early speed to his rivals over 1000 metres, Nature Strip was ridden to take a sit on Saturday, a tactic that had clearly backfired after 400 metres with the horse racing keenly.
REDZEL has won the 2017, 2018 and 2019 G3 Concorde Stakes! Do you like his chances to win the world’s richest race on turf, the Everest Stakes, for the third year in a row on October 18?! https://t.co/EBVqKPe3lT pic.twitter.com/hMRZXQFHuT
— Sky Racing World (@SkyRacingWorld) September 8, 2019
“Although he missed the kick in the Concorde, we were led to believe pre-race that regardless of how the gelding jumped, the preferred tactics were to settle behind the lead,” O’Sullivan tokd Racing.com on Sunday.
“Had James McDonald wish to lead on Saturday, there was 20-25 strides before Redzel worked his way over to the fence, so I’m sure he could have used Nature Strip’s speed to recover and work through underneath Redzel to hold the front.
“As it turned out, Redzel set a slightly below average speed by Group 1 standards in front.
“Nature Strip could have been rolling along a couple of lengths in front of that pace and still well and truly within his comfort zone. He’s shown the ability to run along at a fast speed and run fast overall time that few horses can match in that 1000 to 1100-metre distance range.
“Regardless of what happened in one individual race on Saturday, it seems Nature Strip is no closer now to the trainer and owner’s goal of being able to relax behind horses and still run to his potential than he was more than 12 months age when transferred to Darren Weir.
“Surely there must come a point where you say ‘why try to make the horse something he’s not?'”
Will they give up on “restraining” Nature Strip? He’s a fresh 1000-1100m speed machine! 8 starts for 7 wins in that range when 21+ days btw runs – last 5 ratings: 105.5, 108, 106.5, 108.5, 108. That’s elite G1 class on the global stage. Why try to make him something he’s not? pic.twitter.com/HY4uGRf3V2
— Daniel O’Sullivan (@TRBHorseRacing) September 7, 2019
“He’s an elite, world class 1000m to 1100m horse, with his biggest asset being his high cruising speed and ability to run very fast times that few horses can match.”
On O’Sullivan’s ratings, Nature Strip has produced five performances that he describes as ‘elite Group 1 class on the global stage’ when fresh and allowed to freely roll out in front.
O’Sullivan went on to point out that when at least 21 days between runs and at 1000 to 1100 metres – as he was in the Concorde – Nature Strip has won seven from eight races, suggesting that the stable potentially missed a golden opportunity on Saturday.
Additionally, Nature Strip’s last eight wins have all come when settling up on speed, including a Group 1 Galaxy over 1100 metres.
You can’t teach a horse to run fast, so why take that asset away from arguably the fastest horse in the country?
Is it time to let Nature Strip run again, getting those behind him out of their comfort zone and challenging his rivals to run a fast time to beat him?