Waller’s cardboard solution to help Nature Strip’s hay fever

Chris Waller and Nature Strip share a natural bond, an unwanted one – the affliction of hay fever.

For Waller it is a nuisance he has to put up with. For Nature Strip it can affect the supreme athletic ability that has taken him to the top of the world, so a solution had to be found.

It means The Everest champion has his stable bedding made of cardboard rather than hay, to cut down the dust, which could trigger his hay fever.

“I know how he feels. I get hay fever, and I’m not trying to win races,” Waller said. “We just had to find something to help him and the cardboard certainly did. He is one of only a couple [of horses] in the stable that are on cardboard.

“I know myself that when I find it hard to breathe, it makes me feel awful. I’ll do anything to make myself feel better. What the cardboard does is cut down the dust, which is the cause of Nature Strip’s allergies.”

The change in bedding came as eight-year-old Nature Strip went into the prime of his career, later than the norm, but it is just another example of how meticulous Waller can be with horses.

Trackwork rider Stuart Williams with Nature Strip at home on cardboard in his stable at Rosehill.Credit:Nick Moir

Waller watched with envy, in some ways, on his trip to England as Nature Strip enjoyed his new surroundings. He produced his best performance in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, but the English summer got the better of his trainer.

“It’s funny we went over for Royal Ascot, he was OK, and my hay fever was the worst it has ever been,” Waller said. “He has been OK since we got back from England because it has been quite a wet time in Sydney, which calms down the dust.

“He has been good for a while now. We made some changes last year with him, it’s hard to know if they are the reasons for the improvement, but they [seem to have] helped.”

The premier trainer can see the improvement in his horse and as part of his system, Waller takes a photo of every horse, every Monday in the same position.

“It’s a measure we can use to see any changes,” Waller said. “The thing with Nature Strip is that his coat has been great since we got back from Royal Ascot, everything is going right.

“I’m a horse trainer, and we have a few days to go [until The Everest]. I know a lot can happen with a horse in that time. But everything is good at the moment.”

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