RACING BIG GUYS A NOBLE ACT
ROBERT Smerdon believes preparing a well-performed galloper for Group 1 spring carnival races is like a football team earning a place in the top eight and then rebooting for the finals.
That is the case with his import Noble Protector, who made a huge impression last autumn and now is preparing for a crack at either the $3 million Cox Plate or the $3.15 million Caulfield Cup.
The six-year-old mare starts her “finals campaign” in Saturday’s $200,000 Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m).
Smerdon will let her determine her “grand final” after Saturday, and more importantly, the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 10.
“I think she has enough tactical speed to run well first up over 1400m, although last campaign all her runs were at 1600m,” Smerdon said after she galloped comfortably at Caulfield yesterday morning.
He added that those races were against mares, as will be the case in the Let’s Elope, and the competition gets hotter in Group 1 races against the males.
“Where she goes is still debatable,” he said. “The Toorak will be the defining race. She has been good in her trial and jumpouts.
“Craig Williams, who will ride her on Saturday, was pleased with her gallop last Friday.”
Smerdon said he would need to wait until race day to determine if she had improved from last campaign.
“She raced against mares only last campaign so in some ways she needs to step up if she is going to tackle all and sundry in the spring,” he said.
Noble Protector has been allotted only 51.5kg in the Caulfield Cup, on October 17. However, she is more fancied in the Cox Plate, with the 2040m likely to be more suitable than the extra 360m of the Caulfield Cup.