A Group 1 assignment next month on Caulfield Guineas Day in the Toorak Handicap 2015 is still on the agenda for Robert Smerdon’s mare Noble Protector despite her failed first-up effort last weekend.
The six-year-old daughter of Haafhd kicked off her Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival bid at Flemington on Makybe Diva Stakes Day in the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) but could only manage to finish over five and a half lengths away 13th to Amicus.
During the autumn Noble Protector enjoyed back-to-back Melbourne wins in the Group 3 Matron Stakes (1600m) and Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) over the mile before travelling to Sydney and stepping up in class for a brave third to Amanpour in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on April 11.
It is that form Smerdon is hoping his European import can return to this season again despite beating home just three of her rivals in the Let’s Elope, the Caulfield-based trainer tipping improvement as she steps up in distance.
Smerdon, who has Politeness kicking off her campaign at home in the Group 3 How Now Stakes on Saturday, told Racenet he was pleased with the way Noble Protector pulled through her returning run after getting cleared by the vets post-race.
Her next assignment is scheduled for October 10 at Caulfield in the $400,000 Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) where Smerdon shoots for his first win and Noble Protector looks to be the first mare to win the race since the mighty More Joyous (2010).
“She seems good against all the checks and measures so we’ll put that behind us and move on towards the Toorak,” Smerdon said.
Other Toorak Handicap bound gallopers this spring include former WA-raced Disposition who won a black-type over 1400m at Flemington last weekend, Darren Weir’s Memsie Stakes third placed four-year-old Stratum Star and outside hope Petrology for Lindsay Park’s David Hayes & Tom Dabernig.
The traditional Toorak Handicap lead-up is the $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) run at Caulfield this year on September 26.
The past three Toorak Handicap winners all came off Sir Rupert Clarke runs including the Weir-trained Trust In A Gust (2014) who completed the double last season.
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