Nature Strip shrugged off an unsettling week to signal 2019 might be his year to deliver after unleashing a blistering performance to take the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
The flying four-year-old, who has nearly had as many trainers as he's had starts, made his debut for trainer Chris Waller in perfect style after changing his address from Warrnambool to Flemington following his departure from the Darren Weir stable last Saturday morning.
Starting at $1.75, Nature Strip overcame a tardy start to thrash his rivals with a three-and-a-half-length margin over the ever-brave Jungle Edge ($11), with a further two-and-a-quarter lengths back to Thermal Current ($26) in third place, narrowly ahead of the lacklustre Voodoo Lad ($3.80), who only got warm late in the race.
Waller's Melbourne foreperson Johanne Taylor admitted after the race that she wasn't certain what to expect from the horse that had won eight of 12 starts and has long carried the tag of 'the next big thing' in sprint racing.
"It's hard to tell when it's a horse you know nothing about and all you see is his exposed form," she said. "As an athlete, you don't really know the horse or his demeanours or what's normal or what is not normal.
"It was fantastic to see him do this today and produce what we know is a class performance that he's capable of producing and now we've got something to build on and we know what we are dealing with as well.
"He was just in a class of his own today."
Regular rider Damian Lane said he did not notice a difference in the horse since his last run back in September but said: "It's great to have him back and have him going so well, That's his strength. He can run fast sectionals over a sustained period."
Nature Strip and Damien Lane, picture Quentinjlang.com