Simon Zahra admits Prezado has struck a strong race for his return but the co-trainer can’t fault the three-year-old going into the Inglis Dash.
Boom sprinter Nature Strip toyed with his rivals by 5-1/2 lengths in a midweek race at Sandown last week and is the odds-on favourite to make it four wins from five starts in Saturday’s $250,000 sales-restricted Inglis Dash at Flemington.
Lightly raced Prezado is at $6.50 for his first start back from a let-up and is considered the biggest danger to the odds-on favourite.
Prezado scored his first win at his fourth start in a 1000m-race for three-year-olds during the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington in November before going for a break.
“There was good speed on that day and he got back and hit the line,” Zahra, who trains in partnership with Mathew Ellerton, said.
“He just had a short break and has come back in great order and had had two jump-outs to prepare for his return.
“He trialled well at Werribee on Monday and he trialled well a couple of weeks ago at home at Flemington.
“There’s a couple of nice runners in it so it’s ended up a bit of a hot race and he’ll have to be at his best. But we can’t fault him.
“He’ll run really well, but whether he can beat Nature Strip is another thing.”
Nature Strip will be having his first try racing on the Flemington straight course but his jockey Ryan Maloney is convinced it will suit the gelding.
“He’s got that big-striding action and he’s a strong horse,” Maloney said.
Onehundred Percent, a winner at Werribee and then Caulfield in his two starts this campaign, is the only other runner under double figures at $9.50.
While the Inglis Dash is the richest race on Saturday’s program, the feature event is the Listed Kensington Stakes in which the Ellerton-Zahra stable will have three runners – Flamberge, Amber Sky and Rock ‘N’ Gold.