On Monday trainer Robert Smerdon will make the trip out to Ballarat to check out in person the progress of his possible 2015 Cox Plate contender Noble Protector who has reportedly come through her pre-spring spell in excellent order.
The five-year-old daughter of Haafhd is yet to be confirmed as a definite hope for the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 24 this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival but is already high up the futures markets at bookmakers around the country for the weight-for-age classic.
At Ladbrokes.com.au she’s also listed in the ante-post markets at $21 for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) over the mile and a half the week before Cox Plate Day, those futures odds led at $13 by Hartnell and the young Kiwi Australian Derby winner Mongolian Khan.
The classy mare, a winner of five of her 14 starts to date, has only had five runs down under since being imported from the UK but has already made an impact.
Her first win in Australia came three runs in at Flemington in mid-March this year when she put a big four and a half lengths on Marianne to win the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) after a fourth over 2600m at the same track the November before.
The fourth was behind Le Roi in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes and followed her debut at Caulfield when second behind multiple Group 1 winner Contributer in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m).
She has winning form up to 2414m in Britain and backed up from the Group 3 win at Flemington to post another Melbourne victory, this time in Moonee Valley’s Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) against a field of fellow mares.
Noble Protector was last seen making her Sydney debut on April 11 during The Championships when third behind Amanpour (1st) and Catkins (2nd) in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
Spelled after that Group 1 placing, Noble Protector has spent about four weeks at Smerdon’s Ballarat stable where he will go to visit her next week off his own break in Europe.
“She’s at our Ballarat stable at the moment – they don’t get too long off – and she’s been there for over a month just going through the early stages (of her preparation),” the Caulfield-based horseman told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“I’m only back 24 hours, but I’ll be there on Monday to have another look at her.”
After that Smerdon has the tough job of planning the mare’s spring preparation, the only thing for certain at this stage being that she’ll target a Group 1 trophy.
We haven’t set a program for her just yet, there are obvious options, but we want to try and win a Group 1 with her,” Smerdon said.
“She went close in Sydney and that’s the aim, to try and slot her into a Group 1 through the Spring somewhere.”
If she’s not stepped out over further than a mile, ruling out the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup, the most logical target becomes the $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) against the mares at Flemington Racecourse on Victoria Derby Day, October 31.
Stay tuned for all the spring updates and for the best early spring Group 1 racing markets visit Ladbrokes.com.au where first time depositing players are eligible for up to $500 in bonus bets with use of the promo code BETBONUS!