Legendary Australasian trainer Chris Waller believes success in the Gr.1 King's Stand Stakes would be the perfect crowning moment of Nature Strip as a world champion as his star begins a new era for Australia at Royal Ascot.
While American raider Wesley Ward has taken to steadily using an arresting turn of phrase to describe his crack sprinter Golden Pal: “The best horse I’ve ever trained.”
The question regarding Golden Pal is whether he needs a turn to live up to that description.
In North American turf sprints, run around a bend, 4YO Golden Pal has proved untouchable. Incredible gate speed propels him to early leads, and he is the rare horse capable of laying down extremely fast fractions and still finishing full of energy. It’s that capability that has propelled him to six wins, including two Breeders’ Cup races, from six American turf starts.
While Ward has done far better than any American trainer sending horses to races in Europe, and he believes Golden Pal can show his best in a straight-course dash, and the colt gets the chance to prove it Tuesday in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, part of an the opening-day card of Royal Ascot 2022.
One of Australia's best sprinters of his generation with 8 Group Ones along with the Tab Everest win and nearly £10million (US$13,037,866) in earnings on his CV, Nature Strip embarks on his first international venture with the weight of the nation behind him. Only Mishriff, of all the horses still in training with earnings of more than £11m, can boast to have earned connections more.
He also bids to become the first winner for the country since Black Caviar 's dramatic Gr.1 Diamond Jubilee win in 2012 and Waller's breakthrough Royal Ascot success, having been narrowly denied with Brazen Beau in the same race in 2015.
"He's done everything he needs to do in Australia to be recognized, but it's another big step with him tomorrow. It won't be easy," he said. "The depth of sprinters will make it a really tough contest, but it's what the punters want.
Race Info: Distance 5f (1,006 meters), Surface Turf, Track Straight, Qualification Three-years-old and up, Weight 8 st 12 lb (3yo);,9 st 5 lb (4yo+), Allowances,3 lb for fillies and mares, Purse £500,000 (2022),1st: £283,550, Bonuses see Global Sprint Challenge
Full Runner List 2022: Acklam Express, T: N Tinkler, Arecibo, T: Robert Cowell, Equilateral, T: C Hills, Existent, T: S C Williams, Golden Pal, T: W A Ward, Khaadem, T: C Hills, King's Lynn, T: Andrew Balding, Lazuli, T: C Appleby, Logo Hunter, T: Michael J Browne, Man Of Promise, T: C Appleby, Mondammej, T: M Brittain, Nature Strip, T: Chris Waller
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