Three-year-old Nature Strip will stay under the Aquanita umbrella with John Sadler announced as the new trainer once he returns from suspension.
Nature Strip’s part-owner Rod Lyons confirmed on Saturday that Rob Hickmott will prepare the group 1-bound horse for the next three weeks before Sadler takes over when he emerges from a six-week suspension.
Sadler was suspended on a misconduct charge after heatedly clashing with chief steward Terry Bailey over the race day scratching of one of his horses Observational because of fears it had been treated within a day of racing.
Nature Strip required a new trainer after his original trainer Robert Smerdon announced on Friday that he would be standing down as trainer until a raft of charges relating to race day treatment are heard by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on a date still to be fixed.
Lyons said that although he had never had a horse trained by Sadler, he had known him a long time and said that as he trained from the same complex as Smerdon at Caulfield, the transfer should not trouble the horse.
‘’He’ll be in the same stable with the same feed and surroundings so as far as the horse is concerned, it shouldn’t be a worry,’ Lyons said.
John Sadler, picture Sportpix.com.au
Sadler said he was looking forward to training such a promising horse.
‘’He’s an exciting horse still on the way up and really, you just don’t see horses do what he did last Wednesday, so thrilled to be getting him.’’
Last Wednesday at Sandown, Nature Strip bolted in by 5.5 lengths and was never extended by jockey Ryan Maloney. It was a performance that had his owners considering such autumn races as the group 1 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield next month.
Lyons confirmed that the horse would be given his chance to rise to the top this campaign. He said Nature Strip would run next Saturday at Flemington in the $250,000 Inglis Dash over 1100 metres.
Smerdon trained the first winner at Flemington on Saturday when colt Al Dorama won narrowly. The trainer officially relinquishes his role as trainer on Monday.