Gifted Melbourne sprinter Nature Strip has had to be withdrawn from Saturday's $250,000 Inglis Sprint after coming down with a mystery virus.
The Inglis Sprint had been mooted as one of the races of the autumn when the brilliant Nature Strip, a winner in four of his five starts, was to come up against arguably one of Australia's finest three-year-olds, She Will Reign.
Formerly trained by Robert Smerdon, Nature Strip is now in the care of John Sadler in the wake of the charges laid in the Aquanita inquiry.
But Sadler said on Thursday morning that the horse had come down with a "bug" and had to be treated, ruling out any chance of a start in Saturday's race.
He told Sky Sports Radio the blood test indicated Nature Strip may have the beginnings of a virus.
"He threw up a pretty ordinary blood," Sadler said. "I think he's fighting a little bug so we'll keep him in the stable and treat him over the next couple of days then he'll have a little break."
The main issue going forward is will Nature Strip start again this autumn, or will connections revert to their earlier plan of spelling the three-year-old?
If he recovers quickly there are a host of group races that would suit the horse in the coming months.
Sadler said earlier this week that the three-year-old had worked well since his Flemington success and was looking forward to Saturday's Inglis Sprint.
Nature Strip however, would have found the race far from an easy stepping stone to Group 1 races.
She Will Reign, a winner of five from seven starts and a multiple Group 1 winner, has worked brilliantly at her home track of Warwick Farm this week.
In fact her trainer Gary Portelli said that the three-year-old had never worked better on Tuesday morning in readiness for Saturday's race.
A winner of over $3 million in prize money, She Will Reign was successful in last year's Golden Slipper and then came to Melbourne for more Group 1 success in the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley.