Nature Strip brings Royal Ascot glory to Australia in King's Stand Stakes

Multiple Group One winner Nature Strip brought home a Royal Ascot win for Australia in the King's Stand Stakes.

The Chris Waller-trained Nature Strip was the 9/4 second-favourite ahead of the much-anticipated international clash with Wesley Ward's American challenger and dual Breeders' Cup winner Golden Pal.

The writing was on the wall for supporters of the Golden Pal soon after the gates opened, however, with the usually rapid starter completely missing the break, from which point it was all about the Australian runner.

After initially taking a lead, Nature Strip - with the loose Khaadem for company - moved to the front two furlongs from home still full of running and found another gear once popped the question by James McDonald.

The rest of the field were simply left trailing in his wake as the seven-year-old engaged overdrive and passed the post with four and a half lengths in hand over Twilight Calls, with 200/1 shot Acklam Express and Mooneista close up in third and fourth respectively.

Waller was recording his first Royal Ascot winner after coming close with Diamond (now Platinum) Jubilee runner-up Brazen Beau in 2015.

Waller, who trained superstar mare Winx, said: "It means a lot. We don't get the chance to race against the English, the Irish and even Americans today an awful lot.

"It's pretty special to bring a horse all this way and compete against the best in the world and to win the way he did.

"It was breathtaking, it was a good display and he's a very good horse. He has been for a long time.

"I guess he's in the twilight of his career, but he's learned to be a racehorse now as he was tricky early on. It's an honour to train him.

"Going international is very important to showcase our breed in Australia and of course he's one of the highest-rated horses in the world and it's stacked up.

"We'll see how he is after this and we'll make a decision later in the week on whether he runs in the Platinum Jubilee (on Saturday).

"This is definitely in the top five wins I've ever had."

James McDonald, riding his second Royal Ascot winner, said: "That was incredible, the team have done a marvellous job.

"I'm so lucky to be on him and he's just an absolute freak of a horse. I think he's silenced a few critics with that performance because it was scintillating.

"I didn't know the riderless horse was riderless and I was thinking 'how has one come with him?'. He was just incredible.

"I saw the American horse charge through, at the two pole I was thinking 'are you going to come?', but he had no response. It was the riderless horse who gave me a fright."

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