The magic hands of star jockey Jamie Kah could prove the difference for Nature Strip in the Black Caviar Lightning, according to trainer Chris Waller.
For Waller the equation is straightforward: If Kah can get the enigmatic superstar sprinter to settle, he can win.
“If it all works out he can race smoothly, get into a nice rhythm, get comfortable and if that’s the case he’ll be hard to beat,” Waller said.
Waller referred to last year’s Black Caviar Lightning Stakes as an example of when a race didn’t go to plan.
“Last year he went too quick and didn’t respect the 1000 metres,” he said.
On that occasion, Nature Strip started a $1.45 favourite and finished fourth in a field of seven behind Gytrash.
Waller said Nature Strip would go into Saturday’s renewal of the Black Caviar in the same condition as last year.
“It’s a fine line between getting it right and wrong,” Waller said on RSN on Friday.
“He’s so quiet in track work but when barriers crack back, he’s a different horse.”
When Nature Strip’s regular rider James McDonald decided not to come to Melbourne, Waller turned to Kah and she had her first chance to test the speedster in a jump out at Flemington last Friday.
By all reports, horse and rider immediately gelled.
Waller knows the speed will be on from the outset in the Group One Flemington sprint with the likes of Pippie and Fabergino in the race.
He would prefer Nature Strip take a sit behind them as he believes getting involved in a speed battle would bring about his horse’s undoing and set the race up for a backmarker.
“That’s the nature of sprinting and on-pace runners. It will play out well for a backmarker as they (leaders) might get tired,” he said.
Waller has one of the backmarkers with three-year-old filly September Run resuming.
However, he questioned whether 1000 metres might be too short for her and also how she would handle her first attempt in an elite, weight-for-age event.