Luberon will bid to complete a hat-trick of wins on Saturday and remain undefeated this preparation ahead of her spring grand final at Riccarton next month.
The Cambridge Stud-bred and raced filly hasn’t missed a trick this season for the farm’s private trainer Lance Noble, who can’t fault her ahead of the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Pukekohe.
Luberon currently heads the pre-post market for the Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at $5 with Molly Bloom, and further success this weekend will likely trim her price.
“This will be another good test for her in the main lead-up for the Guineas for the horses that have stayed up here,” Noble said.
“Everyone will be a lot wiser after Saturday about the pecking order.”
Luberon was a comfortable winner at Te Rapa in her seasonal debut over 1200m in September and earlier this month she was again too good at Matamata over 1400m.
“She’s very well and she’s thriving at the moment, sometimes three-year-old fillies can be a bit tricky in the spring when they’re growing and changing, but she just keeps going forward,” Noble said.
“She’s eating well and is very easy to train, she’s in a really good spot.
“She’s still learning and at Matamata we wanted to go forward and she did a few things wrong, gawking around and came around the corner a bit wobbly.”
While Luberon has yet to run beyond 1400m, the Guineas trip isn’t expected to be an issue.
“I don’t think so, until you try you never know, but (sire) Embellish was a miler so I don’t see any problem,” Noble said.
She has won three of her four career starts and a strong case can be made that she should be undefeated after a luckless third on debut in last season’s Listed Challenge Stakes (1200m).
“She pulled up really sore after that run as a two-year-old. She pulled a muscle badly at the start and because she’s so competitive she kept going and took a long time to recover from that,” Noble said.
Luberon also holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), but the fillies’ Classic is the preferred target.
“It’s 90 percent certain she’s going for the 1000 Guineas and we left her in the 2000 Guineas just in case the colts’ race fell away,” he said.
“Crocetti looks really smart so nine times out of 10 you’re better to stick to their own sex, we just kept our options open.”
The stable also has another genuine winning chance at Pukekohe with Dazzled in the Entain – NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1200m).
“It looks a nice race for her and we’ve always thought she had the ability and we would expect her to go well again,” Noble said.
A daughter of Pierro and the Group One performer Capital Diamond, the mare broke her maiden at her fourth appearance when resuming at Tauranga earlier this month.
Noble’s team is in good form with Aquacade a resuming second in the Listed Matamata Cup (1600m) and Habana opened his campaign when third in the Gr.3 Sweynesse Staes (1200m).
“Aquacade was very good and will run on Melbourne Cup Day in the Gr.3 weight-for-age race at Counties (Balmerino Stakes, 2050m) and Habana was great and likely to run on the same day in the Listed race (Fulton Family Stakes, 1500m), Noble said.
Irish-bred mare Terra Mitica also impressed in her New Zealand debut when third in the open sprint at Te Rapa.
“She surprised me a bit, she’s only two races and her winning runs in Europe were over 2000m so to see a bit of dash over 1400m was a good sign,” Noble said.
“The ultimate goal is to get some black print with her, she may run in that same race as Habana but we’ll just see how she does.”
Meanwhile, plans have yet to be confirmed for last season’s multiple Group winner Polygon who was unplaced when she kicked off during the Hawke’s Bay carnival.
“She needs clear air and had to get to the outside, but nothing was making any ground. There was a strong wind and a fast track so it was a forget run,” Noble said.
“We’re not sure yet where she will be going, it’s not easy for four-year-olds who have only raced against their own age group. We’ll may wait a few weeks and go to Te Rapa where she races well.”