Trainer John Sadler says only a heavy track will keep highly promising three-year-old Nature Strip from his racetrack return at Caulfield.
The winner of four of his five starts, Nature Strip contests the VOBIS Gold Dash (1100m) on Saturday.
He will run for Sadler for the first time having started with Robert Smerdon while Robert Hickmott trained him when he was a last-start winner at Flemington in January.
He will also have a change of jockey with Craig Williams replacing Ryan Maloney.
Nature Strip was going to run for Sadler at Warwick Farm in February until a blood test on the gelding before he travelled showed he may have been coming down with a virus.
But it’s all systems go for Saturday after Nature Strip worked on the course proper at Caulfield on Tuesday.
“Ernie Marchant who rides him on a regular basis was happy with him and I was pleased with what I saw,” Sadler told RSN927.
“Even though he’s not at peak fitness he’s on track to resume on Saturday.”
Sadler said Nature Strip had matured since he had taken over his training.
He said what Marchant liked about his work on Tuesday was Nature Strip didn’t want to work hard and did what he was asked.
Plans are for Nature Strip to head to Adelaide for the Euclase Stakes at Morphettville on May 5 before a trip to Queensland for some winter sun.
“Whether he runs up there remains to be seen,” Sadler said.
The Caulfield track was rated in the good range on Monday morning when nominations closed and Sadler was unsure how Nature Strip would handle a wet track should rain come.
“He’s a big striding horse so I’d be guessing how he’d be on a wet track,” Sadler said.
“I’d definitely prefer to see him on firm footing but he’ll probably run on Saturday if it’s wet.
“We’ve got to find out if he does handle it or not so I’m pretty certain he’ll be running, unless its a bog.”