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Australian Racing: Nature Strip prepares for Group 1 targets

Nature Strip began his preparation for an autumn campaign and a potential tilt at Royal Ascot when comfortably winning Heat 1 of the trials at Rosehill on Monday morning.

Coasting along in front, the current 7/2 favourite for the T J Smith Stakes cruised three wide early, before getting to the front and finishing off well under a strong hold from James McDonald.

The 900-metre trial was the seven-year-old's first public appearance of 2022 and the first time he has been seen on a racecourse since winning the VRC Classic on 6th November.

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Last year's Surround Stakes winner Forbidden Love was second, three-quarters of a length behind the son of Nicconi with a further three and a half lengths back to the Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou-trained Standout in third.

Waller happy with Nature Strip prep

"It was really good, a controlled first trial," trainer Chris Waller said.

"He is still a month away from racing and will have another trial in two weeks before we follow a similar path to his last autumn preparation."

Nature Strip, who won The Everest at the third attempt in the spring, is the current favourite to add to his Group 1 haul in the T J Smith Stakes at Randwick for a third successive year on 2nd April, while also being the 6/1 favourite to repeat his Everest win in October.

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