The July Cup Stakes at Newmarket is one of the leading sprint races of the season in the UK, and this year’s field has attracted some of the best sprinters across the globe, including Australia’s Nature Strip.
Chris Waller’s runner has an incredible career already. He has been successful on 20 occasions since he made his debut at Mornington in October 2017. Prior to this summer, he had yet to feature outside of his home country.
The seven-year-old gelding is the 5/1 favourite in the betting for the July Cup. He is expected to feature in the King’s Stand Stakes prior to his appearance at Newmarket. The Australian horse is likely to be one of the leading Royal Ascot 2022 tips for the 5f contest where he is 7/2 to prevail.
His outing at the royal meeting will be ideal preparation for the July Cup. Not only will he be settled in the UK by the time the Newmarket contest comes along, but he should also be much sharper for the run.
Latest Group One Success Came at Randwick
An eighth Group One victory was recorded by Nature Strip on his final start in Australia before his trip to the UK. He was successful in the TJ Smith Stakes, a 6f contest at Randwick.
Under the hands of his regular pilot James McDonald, the pair hit the front inside the final couple of furlongs. In what was an impressive turn of foot, the son of Nicconi stretched away from his rivals in the pursuit of the finish line, eventually scoring by just over three lengths.
His appearance at Randwick was his third outing of the year, and it was his best performance so far. He had to settle for second place in a Group One contest at Flemington, losing out by just a narrow margin. Waller’s runner then finished third in a Group Two race at Randwick.
Nature Strip has shown over the last 12 months that he is just as effective over 5f and 6f. He is also versatile on all ground conditions, with wins coming when the going has been described as ‘Heavy’ and ‘Good’.
Strongest Test to Date in July Cup
One of the biggest challengers to Nature Strip in the July Cup is set to be Campanelle. The American-based sprinter is also set to stay in the UK after Royal Ascot, with the 6f contest in mind.
Wesley Ward’s runner won the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in 2021, so he has already been successful in a Group One contest on these shores. The four-year-old warmed up for his shot at two of the big sprint races in Europe with victory in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland back in April.
One of the opponent’s Nature Strip will be familiar with in the July Cup is Home Affairs. He finished second behind his stablemate earlier this season. Those two horses have been working together in their workouts at Flemington ahead of their assignments at Royal Ascot.
With so much quality in the race, it is set to be one of the strongest July Cup fields in history. It will take place on July 9 and once again it will feature in the British Champions Series.
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