Nature Strip has ticked the first box in his march towards The Everest with a comfortable barrier trial win at Rosehill.
Partnered by regular rider James McDonald, the star sprinter raced on the speed and was not let off the bridle to win Tuesday’s 900m heat by three lengths.
He is scheduled to resume in the Concorde Stakes in September before tackling the Premiere Stakes en route to the $15 million The Everest at Randwick on October 17.
Nature Strip was among a host of stars to step out at the trial session, which also boasted his stablemate and multiple Group One winner Verry Elleegant.
The mare finished a stylish fourth to Fun Fact in her 1000m heat with her Chris Waller-trained barn mates Shared Ambition (third) and Funstar (sixth) both working to the line nicely.
Hawkes Racing unveiled several of its carnival big guns at Rosehill with Caulfield Cup favourite Master Of Wine closing strongly for fourth over 1030 metres.
Golden Rose hopeful North Pacific won his trial while promising pair Masked Crusader and Zebrowski finished second in their respective hitouts.
Team Hawkes is set to have its first black-type runner of the season at Rosehill on Saturday with consistent sprinter Glenall among entries for the Group Two Missile Stakes (1200m).
The stable also has Group One Champagne Stakes placegetter Ole Kirk, who was given an easy trial on Tuesday, nominated for the Listed The Rosebud (1100m).