Country Championship winner Noble Boy will be tested for the first time over 1600m when he takes on a high quality field in the $1m The Gong (1600m) at the Metropolitan status stand alone meeting at Kembla Grange on Saturday.
Noble Boy scored the biggest win of his career in the $500,000 Country Championship Final over 1400m at Randwick on Day One of The Championships during the 2019 Sydney Autumn Carnival and was strong again over that distance when third last start in the Group 3 $200,000 Network 110 Chatham Stakes at Flemington on November 9.
Queanbeyan trainer Todd Blowes recalls jockey James McDonald telling him after he won on the gelding at Rosehill in December last year that he would have no problems stepping up to the 1600m.
“We always wanted to try him at the mile this prep anyway and we might as well do it in The Gong.” Blowes said.
“I have always thought that he would run a strong mile. It has never left my mind what James McDonald said to me after he won on him at Rosehill, he said to me that would like to ride the horse over a mile himself.”
Unfortunately McDonald is unable to get down to the 53kg that Noble Boy has been handicapped with in The Gong which has let Brodie Loy retain the ride on Saturday after partnering him at Flemington.
“But obviously with 53kg we have had to look elsewhere other than James and other jockeys of that caliber. Brodie said that he can get down to the 53kg so he knows the horse so he will take the ride,” Blowes said.
“He got to 54kg at Flemington so he has a light week on the tucker and he will strip down to the 53kg quite comfortably.”
Blowes said that Noble Boy has come through the run at Flemington in fine order and it will be a good opportunity to test him over the 1600m in some good company.
“We had this in the back of our mind just as long as he came through the quick back up at Flemington okay and he hasn’t missed a beat since then so for a million bucks, why not,” Blowes said.
“He had a very quiet week last week and had a 1000m gallop this morning to open the pipes back up again before Saturday.”
“I am really happy with him.”
“I thought he ran super down there, I actually thought we were home for a bit. Anyway he is Group placed and it was just good to him compete with those horses in that next grade.”
“We had to test him at the higher grade at some stage and we thought he ran super so we thought why not step him out (in The Gong).”
“We will just keep him ticking over between now and Saturday and we will head down there and hopefully will see him run a strong mile.”
Noble Boy is marked as a $12 chance for The Gong at Ladbrokes.com.au while the Kris Lees trained El Dorado Dreaming sits at the top of the market order at $5 ahead of John Sargent’s mare Luvaluva and the Chris Waller trained Star Of The Seas.
Betting for the 2019 The Gong at Ladbrokes.com.au: $5 El Dorado Dreaming, $6 Star Of The Seas, Luvaluva, $8 Military Zone, Mister Sea Wolf, $12 Looks Like Elvis, Dr Drill, Noble Boy, $14 Nicoletta, Quackerjack, $15 Articus, Asterius, $19 Ranier, $21 The Candy Man, $26 Goodfella, $31 Jonker, Taikomochi, $34 Tamarack, $51 Gresham, Sir Plush, Strome, $61 Testashadow, $101 Turnberry, $201 All But Gone, Esteem Spirit.