It was an easy and impressive win for Noble Protector over a mile in the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) at Flemington Racecourse this afternoon.
Bippo No Bungus was a little slow out the gates and Set Square was second last after jumping while Street Allure whipped around the field well.
The Darren Weir-trained four-year-old mare led the field ahead of Choose and Noble Protector, who switched places coming into the 600 metres.
With 400 metres to go, the UK mare broke clear and continued to run away from her rivals to win by four and a half lengths while there was just a short head separating Marianne and Set Square in second and third place.
Lee & Shannon Hope’s Fenway had a luckless run, finding herself held up and running fifth.
Craig Williams delivered the winning ride on Noble Protector and nothing but praise for the mare and her connections.
“Robert Smerdon and team have done a great job; she’s first-up today at a mile,” Williams said.
“Because of the less prize money in England and set weight and penalties of this race, it means that she got here on a minimum and was going well enough to win the Blamey today.
“It was great to just use this race as the perfect thing to say that she’s really well placed. She won with sheer authority.
“We’ve been really happy with the way she’s been going and it’s a great result for Qatar (Bloodstock) and Robert Smerdon.”
Noble Protector made her Australian debut in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) on October 18, which she finished runner-up in before running fourth in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m).
The 2015 Schweppervescence Trophy was the first run of the autumn for the five-year-old mare and trainer Robert Smerdon is contemplating a quiet season so she can have a good crack at the spring racing carnival.
“I really think these international horses are better off a break, and she was at the tail-end of a long prep when she came her in spring,” Smerdon said.
“Craig Williams has ridden her a lot, in past work and in trials and he said that this feels like a different horse now she’s had the opportunity to settle in and he’s been really wrapped with her.
“She’ll get some firm tracks and I don’t know how far we go in the autumn, but I’d like to think we don’t go far and have a good crack at the spring.
“We’ll aim for the sky and hope hit the chimney.”
Noble Protector was the $3.10 firm favourite in the Schweppervescence Trophy betting at Ladbrokes.com.au despite her price drifting out from $2.40.
2015 Schweppervescence Trophy Race Results & Finishing Order
|1||8||NOBLE PROTECTOR (GB)||Robert Smerdon||Craig Williams||–||5||54kg||$3F|
|2||5||MARIANNE (NZ)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Mark Zahra||4.5L||2||56kg||$13|
|3||3||SET SQUARE||Ciaron Maher||Hugh Bowman||4.6L||11||56kg||$4.80|
|4||12||FENWAY||Lee & Shannon Hope||Nicholas Hall||5.1L||7||53kg (cd 53.5kg)||$10|
|5||6||PRECIOUS GEM||Gwenda Johnstone||Damien Oliver||5.3L||9||56kg||$12|
|6||1||BONARIA||Pat Hyland||Dwayne Dunn||6.05L||4||58.5kg||$7.50|
|7||10||PANAREA||Lyn Tolson & Leonie Proctor||Chris Symons||6.8L||8||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$151|
|8||7||CHOOSE||Lee & Shannon Hope||Joao Moreira||6.9L||1||54kg||$8|
|9||4||BIPPO NO BUNGUS||Neville Parnham||Brad Parnham||8.15L||3||56kg||$51|
|10||9||STREET ALLURE||Darren Weir||Ms Michelle Payne||9.9L||12||54kg||$31|
|11||2||EPINGLE (NZ)||Michael Kent||Luke Nolen||12.15L||10||58.5kg||$81|
|12||11||REFER||Heath Conners||Damian Lane||14.4L||6||54kg||$41|