Noble Protector is set to contest the 2015 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday and trainer Robert Smerdon is hopeful that she can produce an improved performance in the Group 1 event.
Noble Protector started the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on September 12 as a short-priced favourite and she was settled just behind the leaders in the early stages of the race, but failed to respond when asked for an extra effort by jockey Craig Williams and she could finish no better than 13th.
Smerdon admits that Noble Protector was disappointing in the Let’s Elope Stakes, but he has been happy with the way that she has come through the run and believes that the imported mare is capable of claiming a maiden Group 1 victory in the Toorak Handicap.
“The circumstances never suited her,” Smerdon said.
“She has never run over 1400, but we were positive with her out of the gates to try and get a forward spot and then they slowed and it was a bit stop start.
“It didn’t suit her, but in saying that she was still disappointing.
“We were always going to give her a month between runs and a trial in between, but I reckon she has come on.
“I don’t think she is going quite as well as she was in the autumn when she was stringing those wins together, but she has certainly come on from that first run and her work since has been good.
“It would need to be to take on a race like this, but she a Group 2 and 3 winner and she has been Group 1 placed, so the only thing she can do to improve her CV is win a Group 1 race.
“We are committed to having a go at a race like this.”
Noble Protector has produced her best form over a mile in Australia, but she won the Listed Aphrodite Stakes over 2414 metres in the United Kingdom and she was placed in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) in her Australian debut.
Smerdon expects that there will be plenty of early speed in the 2015 Toorak Handicap and he believes that Noble Protector’s staying ability will give her the opportunity to finish over the top of her rivals in the $400,000 race.
“There will be a lot of pressure in this race I would imagine and she has form,” Smerdon said.
“I think she can be really effective out to 2000 and if they run along and make it a solid run race then she should be strong late.”
Noble Protector is currently available at 2015 Toorak Handicap odds of $8.50 with Ladbrokes and she is on the fourth line of betting behind Disposition ($5.50), Lucky Hussler ($6) and Stratum Star ($6.50).
You can score best tote or starting price plus 20% on the Toorak Handicap and every other race at Caulfield on Saturday with leading online bookmaker Ladbrokes!