The exciting ride continues for a group of Horsham part-owners, after champion sprinter Nature Strip was crowned Australian Racehorse of the Year.
The six-year-old won three Group 1 races last year - the Moir Stakes and VRC Sprint Classic during Melbourne's spring carnival last year before a storming run in the T.J. Smith Stakes in April.
Nature Strip's stellar 2019-20 season yielded four wins, and nearly $4 million in prizemoney from seven starts.
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The star is part-owned by Horsham's Craig Garland, Geoffrey Dumesny, Craig Bennett, Frank Giampaolo, and the late David McCluskey.
Mr Garland said it had been an amazing journey so far.
"It's quite incredible really to think of what the horse has achieved," he said.
"I would never have thought to have been part of a horse that would win something like that, that's for sure. Not when you live in the Wimmera. It's amazing really."
Earlier this year, Nature Strip was crowned the world's best sprinter and the third-best racehorse in the world, in the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings.
It was the only Australian racehorse to feature in the top 10.
Nature Strip - who was also crowned Champion Sprinter - ended a four-year stranglehold superstar Winx had on the top honour at the Australian Racehorse of the Year Awards.
"It's pretty amazing stuff to be alongside (Winx), that's for sure," Mr Garland said.
"She probably goes down as the best racehorse of the past 60 or 70 years in Australia.
"It's pretty surreal."
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Nature Strip was a hot favourite for this year's Everest, but a lacklustre run in the Premiere Stakes at the weekend has thrown some uncertainty into the equation.
The Chris Waller-trained galloper started the Group 2 race as the odds-on favourite, but was well beaten into fourth.
Nature Strip underwent a post-race endoscopic examination which revealed a degree of mucus in his trachea, which is expected to have adversely impacted his performance.
Waller advised Nature Strip would be placed on a course of antibiotics.
Mr Garland said the star sprinter was primed for the $15 million Everest, with a return to Victoria on the cards further down the track.
"That's what everyone is aiming for. It's probably a race that everyone wants to win," he said.
"We think after the Everest, he'll probably come down to Melbourne and run in the VRC Sprint Classic.
"That's the plan at the moment."
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