The early pre-training signs with champion sprinter Nature Strip are positive, with the rising nine-year-old to enter Chris Waller’s Rosehill stables this week to be prepared for his final Spring Carnival.
Part-owner Rod Lyons said on Monday that he’d been to see the gelding in his spelling paddock in New South Wales over the weekend and he said he could barely be more pleased with what he saw and what he heard.
“He looks terrific,” Lyons enthused. “I was actually up in Sydney on the weekend and went out to see him in his pre-training. I think he comes to the stable this week some time.
“All reports so far are good, so we’re very happy with how he’s coming along.”
The world’s premier sprinter of 2022 has not raced since a close-up fourth placing in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in April, which followed a first-up failure when he finished sixth in the G1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington.
The winner of more than $20 million has not won since his victory in The Shorts last September, but Lyons said the veteran has enjoyed the benefits of a long spell.
“It’s his first real break for two years and he had eight or nine weeks in the paddock, which has been great for him,” Lyons said.
Lyons said the early plan with the winner of 22 races is to run him first-up in the G3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on September 2, before two weeks later taking aim at defending his win last season in The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick.
“He’s going to run in the Concorde and then two weeks later The Shorts and then we’ll see how he performs in those and how he comes through and then Chris will map out a more detailed campaign,” he said.
“There are plenty of races, but most importantly he comes back keen and interested and sound as a bell and then we’ll be ready to go.”
On the back of his astonishing 4.5-length victory in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2022, Nature Strip was given an international rating of 126 which left him level with Japanese star Equinox as the third-best horse in the country by year’s end.