Capel trainer Paul Roberts is hoping his patience can be rewarded when Just Act Natural lines up in the Listed Chaff City Pinjarra Classic (1300m) on Sunday.
Pinjarra’s premier $120,000 sprint race marks the return of Just Act Natural, five months past the gelding’s last race and Robert’s original plans.
Just Act Natural resumes since a second in the Listed Farnley Stakes (1400m) at Belmont last September, illness keeping him out of the Ascot carnival.
The son of Natural Blitz was laid low by a mystery stomach complaint, a condition that Roberts admitted had tested and challenged his resolve.
“I was pulling my hair out because I had no idea what was wrong with him,” Roberts said.
“I thought it was ulcers and was treating him for that, but he never responded to treatment.
“I did all the tests you could possibly do, but couldn’t pinpoint the problem.
“After trial and error I used probiotics instead of antibiotics and it seems to have worked.
“He could also be asthmatic and not suited to racing at that time of the year.
“It was driving me mad knowing I had a good horse, but couldn’t get it to the races.
“I would be sitting in the stalls with my head in my hands wondering what was going on.
“You live with these animals every day and it was frustrating.
“I was getting close to being depressed.”
Roberts remains confident Just Act Natural can win first-up and deliver Roberts and his family their fourth Chaff City Classic success.
Robert’s prepared Bites The Dust (2012) and his father, Geoff, had success in consecutive years with Corporate Gun (1999-2000).
A winner at seven of 17 starts, Just Act Natural confirmed he was on track for his return when he scored by six lengths in a Bunbury trial on February 12.
“He needed to show something in the trial and he did, it was his grand final,” Roberts said.
“He is in good order and recovered well from the trial.
“Having to miss the summer might even have been a blessing because it hasn’t flattened him.
“I actually think he races even better when fresh.
“I’m confident he will be in the race for a long way.”
Just Act Natural has drawn barrier one for Sunday’s return assignment. Glenn Smith takes the mount.
He is a $5 chance with Tabtouch. Top weight Battle Hero heads betting at $3.