Imported mare Noble Protector has been installed the early favourite for the Group 3 $300,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Noble Protector was having her first start in Australia as well as her first start for the Caulfield trainer Robert Smerdon when she ran second to another English import Contributer in the Group 3 $150,000 David Jones Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on October 18.
Smerdon is still getting acquainted with the five year old mare and will have a better idea of her staying ability after Saturday’s run.
“She looks like a natural stayer,” Smerdon told Racing Network..
“What grade she gets to, I don’t know. Craig (Williams) thought she was a Group 3 horse.”
Williams was aboard the English bred mare in the David Jones Cup and will ride her again in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The 2600m of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes should not be a problem for Noble Protector with the mare having recorded a win over 2400m in the Listed £40,000 Newsells Park Stud Stakes at Newmarket in England on July 19 three starts back.
Because Noble Protector was a final acceptor for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington last Tuesday but failed to make the final field, she is eligible for a $100,000 bonus if she wins the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Smerdon had also nominated Noble Protector for the Group 2 $300,000 Momentum Energy Stakes (2000m) (formerly known as the Matriarch Stakes) but is keen to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes to qualify the mare for next year’s Melbourne Cup.
“There is race called the Melbourne Cup for her next year and if she can win this she will be qualified for it,” Smerdon told The Age.
“She would have got in well in the Matriarch but this has been the plan for a while.”
“We wanted to have that run and this run and put her away.”
“She was never going to get into the Melbourne Cup this year because she was so far down the list but we paid up to be eligible for the $100,000 bonus and it could prove to be a good investment. She has continued to improve since she has been here and looks really well.”
Ladbrokes.com.au has installed Noble Protector the $3.20 favourite for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes just ahead of the Darren Weir trained Prince Penzance ($4.40) who also failed to qualify for the Melbourne Cup.
Next in the betting is Big Memory at $5.50 and Damien Oliver’s mount Le Roi at $6.
Big Memory looks suited here after winning the Group 2 $200,000 Sportingbet Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield three runs back before finishing two and three quarter lengths behind Admire Rakti when tenth in the Group 1 $3m Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 18.
The Tony McEvoy trained stayer then ran second to Signoff in the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington last Saturday.
Prince Of Penzance and Le Roi are set to clash again after running first and second in the Group 2 $250,000 Racing.com Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.