Nature Strip: Lane off, McDonald on

Nature Strip will have a new rider when he steps out at Rosehill this Saturday.

Part-owner Rod Lyons revealed on Sunday that James McDonald would have his first ride on the enigmatic gelding when he contests the $700,000 Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m).

McDonald replaces Melbourne-based hoop Damian Lane, who has ridden the speedster at six of his past seven starts, including his last-start flop in the Oakleigh Plate on February 23.

McDonald has done some of the work on Nature Strip since he headed to trainer Chris Waller’s Rosehill base after the Oakleigh Plate, including an impressive trial win on Thursday.

“There wouldn’t be many horses that could go with him over 800 metres, but he didn’t throw his head around, which was good,” Lyons said of the trial.

“The whole plan has been to try and get him to conserve his energy early.

“When he strode around them in that trial he wasn’t pulling. He (McDonald) was very, very happy with him.”

Nature Strip is a $5 joint favourite with Graff in Sportsbet’s market on The Galaxy, which is one of five Group 1s at Rosehill this weekend.

Nature Strip and Damian Lane, picture