Image: Bruno Cannatelli
Team Nature Strip is confident the world champion sprinter is back on target in his bid for a record fourth TJ Smith Stakes after a searching trackwork hit-out this week.
The eight-year-old was scratched from a barrier trial on the inside track at Rosehill last Monday in preference for a three-horse jump out on the more expansive course proper.
Nature Strip burned the turf, demolishing his stablemates in an effort that had trainer Chris Waller positive the superstar was again on-song.
“Really happy. He had a good, solid hit-out over 900-metres,” Waller said.
“We let him run a nice 300 without pushing him and he was awesome.”
Nature Strip has been freshened following a rare below par performance when midfield to Coolangatta in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington in February.
He won’t run again before the Group 1 T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 1, a race he has won for the past three years, however he could be given a final exhibition gallop to top off his preparations for the sprint.
“I’d like him to do one more piece of work which is a bit stronger than a track gallop,” Waller said.
“If we do too much with him at home you can risk injuries because they go that fast and they put that much into it.
“An exhibition gallop, you can get away with going ninety per cent because the occasion brings them on, the float trip and things like that.”
If Nature Strip can win the T J Smith, he will become the first horse to capture the autumn carnival major four times.
He currently shares the record with Chautauqua, who won the race in successive years between 2015-2017.
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