Australia: World’s Top Rated Turf Sprinter Nature Strip Returns Down Under by Michael Wrona|09.15.2022|2:23pm Nature Strip wins the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot While Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer in the U.S., the Spring Racing “Carnival” in Sydney has just begun heating up. This Friday night, the world's highest-ranked turf sprinter Nature Strip and Australia's two best middle-distance horses, Anamoe and Zaaki, will contest a pair of top-quality Stakes races at Royal Randwick. First post is 9.40 p.m. Eastern / 6.40 p.m. Pacific Nature Strip, Australian Horse of the Year for the second straight season, proved his credentials on the international stage with an electrifying victory in the King's Stand Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting in June. Trainer Chris Waller is one of only ten non-dignitaries from Australia invited to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth. Waller trained several horses for the deeply revered monarch, and the pair developed a special friendship which included weekly phone calls. The record-setting career of Waller's most famous horse, Winx, climaxed with the mare's 33rd consecutive victory – which came in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick – and the master trainer presented Her Majesty with one of Winx's shoes from the race. The Queen gave her permission for “Royal” to be officially added to Randwick's name during a 1992 visit. Thus, Nature Strip goes from a Royal meeting in England to a royally named racecourse in Australia. The newly turned 8-year-old (the southern hemisphere season began on August 1st) is on a path to defend his crown in The Everest, the world's richest turf race, to be run at six furlongs on October 14 (US date/time). Friday night's prep race at 5-1/2 furlongs, The Shorts (Race 8), is a Group 2 race with a Group 1 cast – immediately after entries were taken, it was branded a “mini-Everest.” Nature Strip (3-2 favorite) meets his grand old rival Eduardo (5-2) for the 11th time, with the former holding a 6-4 edge. Eduardo is already underway this campaign, scoring two weeks ago in his first start as a 9-year-old! These illustrious evergreens will be challenged by the rising star of Australia's sprinting ranks, Mazu (6-1), whose five straight wins when last in work culminated in his first Group One success. As Nature Strip was collecting his second Horse of the Year award, Anamoe and Zaaki were honored as Champion 3-year-old Colt/Gelding and Champion Middle Distance Horse, respectively. The pair clash in Friday night's 7th race, the G1 George Main Stakes. Anamoe (6-5 favorite) and Zaaki (2-1) each won their seasonal debuts at seven furlongs, and step up to a mile against six other Group 1 winners. Duais (18-1) will find this assignment too short, but bears watching as second favorite in future book wagering for November's two-mile Melbourne Cup. Group One glamor aside, a personal highlight on the card will be the appearance in Race 2 of a horse named for yours truly: Microna (“Mic” as in microphone). His 42 starts have largely come at lesser venues with modest results, but he did venture to the “big smoke” two weeks ago and finished 2nd. Alas, “seconditis” has plagued Microna, as his record of 42:4-13-5 will attest. Thus, I recommend investing in the place pool! The Randwick card (AUS-A) will be broadcast live on FanDuel TV this Friday night (First Post: 9.40 p.m. ET / 6.40 p.m. PT) alongside cards from Gold Coast (AUS-B), Newcastle (AUS-C) and Belmont (AUS-D). All races will be live-streamed in HD on the new Sky Racing World App, skyracingworld.com and major ADW platforms such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, and AmWager. Wagering is also available via these ADW platforms. Fans can get free access to live-streaming, past performances and expert picks on all races at skyracingworld.com. About Michael Wrona A native of Brisbane, Australia, Michael Wrona has called races in six countries. Michael's vast U.S. experience includes; race calling at Los Alamitos, Hollywood Park, Arlington and Santa Anita, calling the 2000 Preakness on a national radio network and the 2016 Breeders' Cup on the International simulcast network. Michael also performed a race call voiceover for a Seinfeld episode called The Subway.