Robert Smerdon has been pleased with the building condition of Noble Protector since her return to work this time, and has revealed he will settle on a first competitive point of call for the talented import following a barrier trial at Cranbourne on Friday.
Noble Protector has been a standout performer through only six competitive starts since arriving in Smerdon’s care prior to the 2014 Spring Carnival; returning this for a light autumn campaign consisting of wins in the Group 3 Schweppervescence Trophy (1600m) and Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m), and a credible third on heavy going in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on Day 2 of The Championships.
Having performed well in a jump-out at Sandown last week, Smerdon confirmed a race like the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) will figure as the major target for the mare this time, but is yet to settle on her return target.
“It was good to have Craig on her. He gave us a good report,” Smerdon told AAP.
“The two horses in front were quite sharp but a few strides after the post she’s run up past them and pulled up terrific.
“She had a light autumn having only the three runs.
“She could have trained on but the carnival was over so we sent her for a good break and brought her back for the spring.
“She’s done everything asked of her so far.”
Undoubtedly finding peak condition through the early stages of 2014, Noble Protector ran second in the Listed Fillies’ Warwick Stakes (2414m) at Goodwood; progressing to success in the Listed Newsells Park Stud Stakes (2414m) and third in the Listed Galtres Stakes (2414m) in her final appearances in Britain.
Placing a close second to Contributer in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) upon debuting in Australia on October 18th, the Haafhd mare ran fourth in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) before returning to the paddock.
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