Nature Strip is the odds-on favourite to continue his winning ways in the $250,000 Inglis Dash and his jockey Ryan Maloney is excited to see what the boom sprinter can produce again.
Three-year-old Nature Strip has won three of his four starts including his past two, both by 5-1/2 lengths.
His latest win at Sandown eight days ago, when he ran slick time in a 1000m benchmark-70 race, moved Maloney to rate the lightly raced gelding the best horse he’s ridden.
“Saturday is a good stepping stone to see where we’re headed,” Maloney said.
“And if he performs anything like he did at Sandown he’s going to be very hard to beat.
“He wasn’t fully screwed down for Sandown. They were sort of treating that as a trial and to see what he did, he couldn’t have been more impressive.
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“He’s definitely Group-class.”
Nature Strip is at $1.55 for Saturday’s 1100m straight-track race at Flemington which is restricted to three-year-olds nominated to the Inglis Race Series.
He will be having his first start for caretaker trainer Robert Hickmott after being transferred from Robert Smerdon who has stood down from training duties until charges against him stemming from the Lovani inquiry are heard by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.
Another victory to Nature Strip on Saturday could signal a step up to Group company in the coming weeks.
“I expect him to win,” Maloney said.
“It will give us a better idea with where he’s at. I don’t think the straight will pose a problem. He’s got that big-striding action and he’s a strong horse.
“Going in a straight line I think is going to probably be a benefit for him.”