Boom sprinter Nature Strip has toyed with his rivals at Flemington and given the course record a shake in his first start for new trainer Darren Weir.
The gelding had 60.5kg and was giving plenty of weight to his rivals in Saturday’s Great Ocean Road Handicap (1100m) for three-year-olds but he surged clear over the final 200m to win by 4-1/2-lengths.
His time of 1:02.26 was 0.11 seconds outside the course record set by Loveyamadly in 2013 and the performance left Victoria’s premier trainer relieved.
“I just wanted to see him do it because there’s such a hype on him,” Weir said.
“He’s been galloping like a good horse at home but we’ve never let him off the bridle.
“To me he looked to really enjoy it today and he stretched out late.
“He looked to really quicken when he went.”
Nature Strip took his record to five wins from eight starts.
He started his career with Robert Smerdon and then had one start for Robert Hickmott in January and then two starts for John Sadler.
The sprinter was transferred to Weir’s stable last month.
“The previous trainers have looked after him very well,” Weir said.
“I’ve got the horse at the right time. The other guys have done all the hard yards.”
Nature Strip, the $1.90 favourite, led the field in the straight-track race and put a gap on his rivals after kicking clear inside the 300m.
I Am Someone ($21) led in the chasing pack while Double Jeopardy ($19) was another 2-1/4-lengths away third.
The Listed Creswick Series Final (1200m) in two weeks at Flemington is the likely next step for Nature Strip.
“He gives me the feel of a top-class horse,” jockey Damian Lane said.
“If he can keep improving and his racing manners keep improving he can get to a high level.”