By Nathan Exelby Courtesy of The Courier Mail

HAVING said goodbye to the goats at Childers, the holiday is over for Stradbroke winner River Lad, who is back in pre-training at Washpool Lodge.    River Lad spelled at the Childers property of his owners Ray and Rosemary Anderson.

“He loves it out there. He gets to hang out with the goats,” trainer Natalie McCall said.

It is anticipated River Lad will be back in McCall’s stables in early August and then be readied for a first-up tilt at the Gilgai Stakes in Melbourne.

“Originally I thought the Sir Rupert Clarke (G1 1400m at Caulfield) would be the perfect race for him, but it would have meant he only got a very short break,” McCall said.

“Instead, we are aiming to have him at his peak for the Emirates Stakes on the last day of Cup week.

“I’ve learnt the best plan is to have them peaking for one race and that looks the logical one. He’s won over 1600m earriverlier in his career and if you’re strong enough to win a Stradbroke, it generally means you can get a mile.”

McCall said there’s also an offer from Western Australia to fly River Lad over for the Railway Stakes and it is a realistic option, pending how he performs in Melbourne.

McCall’s skills as a conditioner were on display again on Saturday, where she produced Not Too Sure to win off a 43-day break at his first run for the stable.

The Sunshine Coast-based trainer doesn’t have ambitions to increase the size of her stable, currently at 22, but is keen to upgrade the quality of her stock.

“It would be nice to be able to be a bit more picky,” she said.

“We got (Not Too Sure) and there’s a couple more on their way, but I’m keen to keep improving.”

River Lad will be her first runner in Melbourne, but she is looking for a rural environment to stable him in while he is away.

“I will try and get him somewhere away from the city. He’s a bit highly strung the old boy, so I’m hoping Cranbourne might be an option,” she said.

McCall has a career strike rate sitting at a very healthy 18 per cent and the number of winners she is trained has improved each season.

Not Too Sure was one of many winners to come from well back in the field to win at Eagle Farm.

The only leader to win was Rocky King, who is also Melbourne bound.

Trainer Tom Bourke has not mapped out a specific plan, but says having now won over 1300m, it opens up his options.

“I’m sure he would love going down the straight at Flemington,” he said.

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