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Australian Racing: Nature Strip eyes Group 1 glory

There’s a big Saturday of action for punters to look at with the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington providing Group 1 action in Melbourne while there are three Group races in Sydney at Rosehill.

Race 7 Flemington

Nature Strip @ 11/10

Race 2 Flemington

Climbing Star @ 11/2

Race 4 Rosehill

Platinum Jubilee @ 13/5

Strip to take Lightning

The feature race on the Flemington card is the previously mentioned Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes over 1200m. A field of 11 are set to go to post with a good 4 track forecast for the $1,000,000 contest.

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The winner of this race back in 2021 Nature Strip has registered a number of top level victories since that effort including at the top level in the T J Smith Stakes over this trip at Randwick last April. Chris Waller’s charge has been in good form since winning at Royal Ascot and in an 1100m Group 2 at Randwick back in September.

While the son of Nicconi suffered odds-on defeats in his final two starts of last year he sets the standard on form and boasts a good first up record. Top hoop James McDonald, on board for all three efforts last spell is again in the saddle and Nature Strip looks up to making the perfect start to his 2023 campaign with a first up victory.

Star to shine in Vanity

On the undercard of the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is the Group 3 Tab Vanity over 1400m. The race, restricted to three-year-old fillies sees See You In Heaven bid for a second victory this spell having taken out the Group 2 Sandown Guineas over 1600m at Caulfield in November.

The daughter of Divine Prophet suffered a defeat when runner-up dropping to 1100m for the Durbridge Stakes at Morphetville last month. With that in mind it may prove profitable to look to Climbing Star here.

The pick showed good form last spell including when finishing runner-up in the Group 2 Fillies Classic over 1600m at Moonee Valley in October. Showed a liking for wet tracks that day and performed well when runner-up in a 1600m event on a soft 5 surface at Flemington the following month.

Disappointed when the Zoustar could finish only sixth over 1300m in the Group 3 Ive Manfred Stakes over 1300m at Sandown Hillside when racing first up this spell. Phillip Stokes’ charge is likely to have improved for that effort and is selected to double her career tally.

Jubilee to take Slipper

The Golden Slipper is just around the corner and eight are set to go to post in one of the major preps for the race, the Group 2 1100m Silver Slipper at Rosehill.

A soft 6 is forecast for the competitive looking event with King’s Gambit likely to start favourite. Trained by Peter and Paul Snowden the I Am Invincible colt impressed with a five length victory over 1000m at Caulfield when making his debut in October.

The colt was stepped up to Group 3 company subsequently where he suffered a surprise defeat when jumping at cramped odds for the Group 3 General Canonbury Stakes. Gai Waterhouse knows what it takes to win this race having triumphed in it a number of times in the past including with Pierro in 2012.

Waterhouse and training partner Adrian Bott took this race with Farnan three years ago and are represented by the filly Platinum Jubilee this time around. The pick has placed second on both starts since debuting with a victory in the Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes over 1000m at Randwick at the start of October.

The selection raced off the pace when beaten one-and-a-half-lengths in the valuable Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic over 1200m at Gold Coast last month on her latest outing. The return to hold up tactics appeared to suit on that occasion and similar tactics are expected from barrier seven here.

The drop back in distance should prove no real issue and Tim Clark looks capable of steering the chestnut filly to victory.

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