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Beaten Black Caviar Lightning favourite Nature Strip will be allowed to do his own thing when he lines up in the Group 2 $500,000 Hyland Race Colours Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Nature Strip, above, heads back to Sydney to run in the 2020 Challenge Stakes at Randwick. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Nature Strip, above, heads back to Sydney to run in the 2020 Challenge Stakes at Randwick. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

“We will be riding our own race and not worrying about anything else,” trainer Chris Waller told AAP.

“We will be trying to switch him off and get him to relax, whether it’s three lengths in front or outside the leader.”

Nature Strip was sent out as the odds on favourite in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 but after he showed his trade mark brilliant early speed, faded over the concluding stages to miss a place in finishing fourth.

Trainer Chris Waller quickly summed up the situation and redirected Nature Strip’s Autumn Carnival campaign back to Sydney with a drop back to Group 2 grade.

“He’s pulled up well,” Waller said.

“The horse was too fresh first-up.

“We tried to restrain him early in the prep last spring but I think we just gave him half a chance in the Lightning to run quick and he took advantage of it.

“He’s well. We galloped him at Flemington last week and he’s back in Sydney. He will have a gallop Tuesday and be ready to go in the Challenge.”

Nature Strip is one of nine sprinters nominated for the Challenge Stakes along with last year’s winner Ball Of Muscle, dual Everest winner Redzel, multiple Group 1 winner Santa Ana Lane and wet tracker Jungle Edge.

The Peter and Paul Snowden trained Redzel has also returned to Sydney after a gutsy first up second to Gytrash in the Black Caviar Lightning and is looking to claim a second Challenge Stakes victory after taking home the trophy in 2018.

Pre-post betting for the 2020 Challenge Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au has Nature Strip as the $1.95 favourite ahead of Redzel at $4 and Santa Ana Lane at $5.50.

Early betting for the 2020 Challenge Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $1.95 Nature Strip, $4 Redzel, $5.50 Santa Ana Lane, $7 Deprive, $11 Jungle Edge, $16 I Am Immortal, $31 Ball Of Muscle, $34 Miss Leonidas, Witherspoon.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.