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Conchord Stakes a must win race Nature Strip

Jockey James McDonald believes Nature Strip must win Saturday's Group Two Conchord Stakes if he's to compete in the Everest.
Nature Strip
Nature Strip is the even money favourite heading towards the Conchord Stakes
Sydney's top jockey James McDonald says sprinter Nature Strip must prove his credentials in this weekend's Group Two Conchord Stakes if he's to go on to race in the Everest.

McDonald, speaking to radio station RSN 927, said Nature Strip is one of the best short course horses in Australia.

“I think he’s going as good as any sprinter in the country at the moment. I think you’ll see the real Nature Strip on Saturday,” McDonald said.

The 27-year-old believes the Conchord Stakes is Nature Strip's for the taking, despite lining up against three horses that have already been declared for October's $14 million feature.

"He needs to be there to win ... if they’re thinking The Everest then he’ll need to be putting a field like this away.”

McDonald has been working in alongside Nature Strip's trainer Chris Waller to steady the fierce sprinter in trials since his last campaign when transferred to Sydney.

Nature Strip has won at 1200m but is there are question marks over his ability to see out that distance in a race that's strongly ran among elite company.

McDonald says we'll see a more mature horse on Saturday.

“He’s come back in a really good frame of mind,” he said.

“He’s a little bit more relaxed, he hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm or speed and I’m looking forward to his return.

“In saying that, he’s got to do it on race day. He can do it in trackwork and trials but doing it under race conditions is the test.”

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