Trainer Robert Smerdon is confident that Noble Protector can bounce back to her best form in the 2015 Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night after she impressed with her performance at trackwork yesterday.
Noble Protector stamped herself as a Cox Plate contender when she took out both the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) and Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) before she finished a third in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m), but she returned to racing with a very flat performance in the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 12.
Smerdon said that you had to be disappointed with the performance of Noble Protector in the Stocks Stakes, but he is happy with the way that Haafhd mare has trained on ahead of the Stocks Stakes this weekend.
“In hindsight it wasn’t the right race and it wasn’t the right distance that she can be effective at,” Smerdon told Racing.com.
“The circumstances didn’t work out for her on the day, but she was still below expectations.
“She has had a good gap between runs, she has bounced back really well and we are really happy with her going forward.
“I would be more inclined to look at her form in the autumn then her first-up run in the Let’s Elope.”
Smerdon was one of a number of trainers that could advantage of the opportunity to gallop some of his horses at Moonee Valley yesterday and Noble Protector worked alongside stablemate Ungrateful Ellen.
Noble Protector did enough in her final serious piece of trackwork to impress Smerdon and the veteran trainer believes that she will take a great deal of fitness improvement out of the gallop as she builds towards the Stocks Stakes on Friday night.
“She worked in company with Ungrateful Ellen and they worked over 1200 metres striding up more strongly over the last 600 metres,” Smerdon said.
“I thought her work was pretty strong through the line.
“Craig Williams thought that she could have been a little bit better late in the work, but she ran quite good sectionals and had a reasonable blow, so I can see her taking quite good benefit from it.”
The 2015 Stocks Stakes nominations were released yesterday and Noble Protector is set to take on the likes of Amanpour, Fenway, May’s Dream, Precious Gem, Sardaaj, Scratchy Bottom and Ungrateful Ellen in the Group 2 event.