By Ray Hickson
John Sadler has only been the trainer of boom Victorian three-year-old Nature Strip for a few days but he’s seen enough to know he’s dealing with a smart sprinter.
It’s because of that short time in charge, however, that Sadler is more than happy to let jockey Ryan Maloney devise his own plan on Nature Strip in Saturday’s headline clash with She Will Reign in the $250,000 Inglis Sprint (1100m) at Warwick Farm.
The gelding is with his third trainer after just five starts as he landed with Sadler via Robert Hickmott, who prepared Nature Strip in his latest win, after Robert Smerdon stood down.
“It’s obviously good for a horse like this to fall in your lap,’’ Sadler said.
“Robert (Smerdon) said he’s one of the most straightforward horses he’s ever trained which is a good rap.
“Ryan has ridden him in most of his runs, he knows the horse extremely well and ridden work. So I’m not going to be interfering with any instructions, I’m just going along for the ride.’’
Sadler said Maloney was rapt with Nature Strip’s course proper work at Caulfield on Tuesday, work he described as an easy gallop following a more serious hitout (clockwise) the previous week.
He ran 37.40 for his last 600m and 23.30 for his final 400m and Sadler said “that’s pretty cruisy for him’’.
TAB opened Nature Strip at $2.60 second favourite behind She Will Reign ($1.70) and Sadler has plenty of respect for the Slipper winner. Interestingly, both three-year-olds are on the $26 line in the TAB's 2018 The Everest market.
“He’s really jumping in the deep end against that filly,’’ he said.
“Obviously he has plenty of ability, how much we will find out as we go along. It’s possible that he’s the real deal but you don’t find out until race day.
“It was nice work on Tuesday but I was more interested in what Ryan thought than what I thought of the gallop.’’
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While Nature Strip still has to prove himself against quality opposition, one thing he has in his favour is race fitness from his two wins in January.
Sadler said that’s a factor he’ll be discussing with Maloney to take full advantage of drawing perfectly in barrier three with She Will Reign jumping from the inside.
“I think race fitness could come into play and Ryan said he’s ready to go and feels terrific,’’ Sadler said.
“He’s been up a long time but does look like he is a really nice horse. I’m pretty sure this will be his last run before a break.’’
It will be a rare trip to Sydney for Sadler, who said he could “count on two hands’’ the number of runners he’s had in the Harbour City.
Arguably the best horse he’s travelled to Sydney was Lady Jakeo for the Golden Slipper in 1993 but the filly trained off after running second in the Reisling Stakes that year and didn’t contest the race.