Champion rider James McDonald is spoilt for choice with his potential rides this spring, headlined by star sprinter Nature Strip, who is resuming in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) on Saturday.
However, it’s another Chris Waller runner that he’s most excited about, highly talented four-year-old Reloaded, who put together a solid autumn campaign without much reward.
“I think Reloaded can go to another level this prep,” McDonald said. “He really excites me coming into the spring.
“He didn’t change physically at all from two to three but from three to four – wow!
“Never before have I seen a horse develop like he has.
“He only had to find a length and he’s right there with the big boy and girls and I’ve got no doubt he’s made it up for sure.”
Reloaded resumes in Saturday’s Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) and is an $11 chance, with the Epsom Handicap (1600m) on October 3 and the $7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m) on November 1 a potential pathway should the son of Snitzel continue to impress throughout the preparation.
Reloaded is a $26 chance in the Epsom, and a $51 chance in the Golden Rose all-in markets.
Watch: Reloaded finish third in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas.
— 7HorseRacing ? (@7horseracing) March 21, 2020
Nature Strip also resumes this Saturday, lining up the $1.40 favourite in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m), where he meets fellow The Everest slot holder Gytrash.
McDonald isn’t concerned about the potential of fellow front-runner Anders upsetting Nature Strip in The Everest in contesting the lead.
“He might be a nuisance but he wouldn’t undo my race,” he said.
“The TJ Smith, The Everest – you don’t get a soft lead. They say Nature Strip might get an uncontested lead, there’s no such thing in those races.
“We’re talking about The Everest.
It’s the world’s best sprint race so it’s not like we get to go slow.
“Yes he would be up there and yes he’s got the same racing style as Nature Strip but there’s a big difference between a San Domenico and an Everest.
“When and if the boy meets the man – we’ll see if the boy can keep going.”
Watch: Nature Strip’s scorching win in the TJ Smith Stakes.
— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) August 31, 2020
McDonald also reunites with talented Frankel filly Hungry Heart, who ran fifth in the Golden Slipper last preparation and has had plenty of time off the develop.
I can’t wait for her to step out,” McDonald said.
“The feel she has given me when I’ve sat on her this prep tells me she’s back better than she was in the autumn and I can’t wait to see where she fits in with the fillies.
“If she can win the first one on Saturday, you’d have to think she’ll have the next two [The Tea Rose and The Flight Stakes] at her mercy.
“She’ll only improve as she steps up in trip.”
Hungry Heart is currently the $2.80 favourite for the Furious Stakes on Saturday, and the $3.50 favourite for the all-in Flight Stakes market.