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Nature Strip will be given the chance to defend his Challenge Stakes crown

Nature Strip lost some of his lustre in the spring but after returning to his best in the Group One Black Caviar Lightning in Melbourne, the star speedster is on target for another dominant autumn campaign in Sydney.

The multiple Group One winner will be given the chance to defend his Challenge Stakes crown when he tackles the 1000 metre Randwick sprint on Saturday.

Trainer Chris Waller said Nature Strip was given a few days off after holding out the late charge of barn mate September Run to win the Lightning at Flemington first up and the horse had continued to please the stable.

“He had a few days at the farm in Melbourne and came up the Wednesday after his race,” Waller said.

“He’s settled in well. He galloped last week, galloped (Saturday) morning and he will have one this week.”

There were 11 nominations for the Challenge Stakes on Monday, including Godolphin sprinter Bivouac, up-and-coming filly Written Beauty and Nature Strip’s stablemate Haut Brion Her.

A winner of the Group Two Sheraco Stakes in the spring, Haut Brion Her ran the race of her life to finish fifth to Classique Legend in The Everest.

She has looked good winning two recent barrier trials but Waller says he has entered her as a precaution and it is doubtful she will take on Nature Strip this weekend.

“Unlikely. I don’t think she could beat Nature Strip over 1000 metres and the owners are happy to wait for the Galaxy at this stage,” Waller said.

“But she is ready to go if she needs to.”

All nine races at Randwick on Saturday are black-type events with the Group One Randwick Guineas and Canterbury Stakes headlining the bumper program.

Written by Mandy Cottell

*Existing customers only. 2nd Racing bet. Excl SA & WA. T’s & C’s apply. Gamble responsibly.
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