Group 1 placed Noble Protector is shaping up nicely as she prepares for the Group 1 $650,000 Hardy Brothers Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on May 21.
The English import has finished third on two occasions in the 2015 and 2016 Group 1 $1m Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Randwick during ‘The Championships’ and trainer Robert Smerdon is keen to step up her up to a middle distance.
Smerdon sent Noble Protector out for a solid hit out in a 1550m barrier trial at Cranbourne today and the Caulfield trainer was happy with the result when second to the Lee and Anthony Freedman trained Our Ivanhowe.
“She has been okay at the 1600m this time but gave us the indication at Moonee Valley that she might be better over further but we went to the 1600m Queen of The Turf in Sydney where she went well,” Smerdon told racing.com.
“But her form in the UK is over 2400m so the 2000m shouldn’t hold any fears for her and today she was good right through the line so I think she is on track.”
Regular rider Craig Williams has aboard in the trial today and was equally impressed with Noble Protector’s performance.
“I was really happy, most importantly with her attitude she was a lot better behaved,” Williams said.
“She wasn’t in the gates for that long, for safety reasons they put her in later. She was quite comfortable in there for a period of time.
“She jumped nice, responded nicely when I asked her, Robert said to give her a nice trial in regards to stepping up to the ten furlongs and she dipped really badly half way around and I thought she was going to struggle, but ever since then she got her action correct and I was happy with the way she trialled.”
Noble Protector has recorded two wins from ten starts for Smerdon since she arrived from England and put back to back victories together in the Group 3 $150,000 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) at Flemington and in the Group 2 $200,000 Sunline Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley during the 2015 Melbourne Autumn Carnival.
Smerdon has followed the same program this year but Noble Protector took no part in the Schweppervescence Trophy when she reared at the start dislodging Williams but was back in the prizemoney at her next start when second to Rose De Lago in the Sunline Stakes before running in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes.
In early Doomben Cup betting at Ladbrokes.com.au Noble Protector is listed as a $17 chance along with Havana Cooler and Sakhee’s Soldier.
The John O’Shea trained Hauraki heads the market order at $5 ahead of Darren Weir’s Raw Impulse at $7 and Hauraki’s stablemates Old North and It’s Somewhat at $10.