Nature Strip produced a blitzing display to win the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, giving Australia a long-awaited victory at the famous meeting.
Billed as a fascinating international clash between Chris Waller’s star sprinter from Down Under and Wesley Ward’s American hero Golden Pal, the five furlong dash was expected to produce a tight finish, but Nature Strip blew away all before him.
Sent off 9/4 second favourite, Nature Strip moved to the front by the halfway point and quickly moved well clear under James McDonald, who was riding his second Royal Ascot winner.
- ‘Superstar’ Baaeed extends unbeaten record at Royal Ascot
- Hollie Doyle becomes most successful female rider at Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing
Watch every race from Royal Ascot, live only on Sky Sports Racing from Tuesday June 14 to Saturday June 18
There was drama in behind from the very start as Golden Pal, usually fast out of the stall, missed the break and was soon on the backfoot, while Khaadem lost his rider Jamie Spencer leaving the gates.
The rest of the field never got into contention for the win as Nature Strip had only the loose Khaadem for company at the finishing line, winning by with four-and-a-half lengths from Twilight Calls, with 200/1 shot Acklam Express and Mooneista close up in third and fourth respectively.
- Transfer Centre LIVE! Nunez arrives at Liverpool ahead of £85m move
- Bairstow smashes 77-ball ton; England need less than 50 to win LIVE!
- Man Utd remain in talks for Barca’s De Jong as club make Antony enquiries
- Spurs agree £25m deal to sign Brighton’s Bissouma
- Burnley appoint ‘proven leader’ Kompany as new manager
- Why kick-ins would be ‘the biggest mistake’
- McIlroy: ‘Short-term thinking’ joining LIV Golf | ‘Golf becoming more fractured’
- Arsenal transfer rumours: Gunners monitor Asensio | Marquinhos signs
- World Cup 2022: Dates, draw & schedule
- Green: ‘Livid’ Curry is exactly what Warriors need in Game 6
It is the first Australian-trained winner at Royal Ascot since Black Caviar in 2012.
Nature Strip has just the loose Khaadem for company as he crossed the winning line
McDonald said: “That was incredible, the team have done a marvellous job.
“I’m so lucky to be on him and he’s just an absolute freak of a horse. I think he’s silenced a few critics with that performance because it was scintillating.
“I didn’t know the riderless horse was riderless and I was thinking ‘how has one come with him?’. He was just incredible.
James McDonald punches the air as Nature Strip wins the King's Stand at Royal Ascot
“I saw the American horse charge through, at the two pole I was thinking ‘are you going to come?’, but he had no response. It was the riderless horse who gave me a fright.”
Waller, who trained superstar mare Winx, said: “It means a lot. We don’t get the chance to race against the English, the Irish and even Americans today an awful lot.
“It’s pretty special to bring a horse all this way and compete against the best in the world and to win the way he did.
“It was breathtaking, it was a good display and he’s a very good horse. He has been for a long time.
“I guess he’s in the twilight of his career, but he’s learned to be a racehorse now as he was tricky early on. It’s an honour to train him.
Follow Sky Sports Racing on Twitter
See the latest horse racing news, interviews and features from Sky Sports Racing
“Going international is very important to showcase our breed in Australia and of course he’s one of the highest-rated horses in the world and it’s stacked up.
“We’ll see how he is after this and we’ll make a decision later in the week on whether he runs in the Platinum Jubilee (on Saturday). This is definitely in the top five wins I’ve ever had.”