Melbourne horseman Robert Smerdon has described his Doomben Cup 2016 hope for Saturday Noble Protector as being “in good shape” as he shoots for a maiden win in the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival feature.
Six-year-old Haafhd mare Noble Protector will be the first runner Smerdon saddles-up in a $650,000 Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) field, final acceptances for the weight-for-age classic released on Wednesday morning.
The only two mares to beat home the boys in the Doomben Cup in the past 30 plus years were Cinque Cento (2007) and Streama (2014), Noble Protector looking to be the next this weekend.
To date she has won five of her 19 career starts so is only lightly-raced for her age.
Two back she was runner-up to Miss Rose De Lago in Moonee Valley’s Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) before a brave last start third to Azkadellia in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.
The bookies highly rate this season’s Queen Of The Turf Stakes form and have the Ciaron Maher-trained winner Azkadellia as the dominant favourite in futures betting for the upcoming Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28 and the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11.
Noble Protector was beaten only 3.5 lengths by Azkadellia in the Sydney lead-up and has run a subsequent second behind Caulfield Cup placegetter Our Ivanhowe in a 1500m Cranbourne trial in the wet on May 9.
She makes her Queensland debut in the Doomben Cup on Saturday looking to continue her good form this time in and is looking to break a notable winning drought going back to March of 2015.
Smerdon was thrilled with her recent trial and hopes to get a Group 1 win on Noble Protector’s record before she is retired to serve at stud as a broodmare later this year.
“She trialled really well at Cranbourne last week and it was soft and she likes that,” he told the Herald Sun.
“She seems to be in good shape.”
Pre-field Doomben Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are firmly led by the John O’Shea-trained four-year-old Hauraki ($3.80) followed by his stablemate It’s Somewhat ($5) who ran second and fifth respectively behind Leebaz at the Gold Coast on May 7 in the Group 2 A.D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m).
Noble Protector is also at single-figures in futures Doomben Cup betting paying $9 for the win.
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