IN Racing
Noble hoping to improve Pukekohe fortunes with Aquacade
Cambridge Stud trainer Lance Noble is hoping for a more routine Pukekohe outing with his strong team on Melbourne Cup Day.
Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | November 07, 2023
Aquacade. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Lance Noble is hoping for a more routine race-day at Pukekohe Park on Tuesday, as he presents several top chances including Aquacade in the feature Gr.3 Balmerino Stakes (2050m).

Noble’s last journey to the South Auckland-based course ended in disaster with Luberon, the classy filly throwing away her chances in the Gr.2 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) when ducking outwards at the 150m and colliding with the outside running rail.

Fortunately, Luberon and visiting Australian jockey Celine Gaudray walked away unscathed, and the daughter of Embellish remains on target for next weekend’s Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Park.  

“Luberon is very well, she trialled last week which was really good after the disaster at Pukekohe last start, so hopefully we’ll have a better day tomorrow than last time we were there,” Noble quipped.

He will have a good opportunity with a key contender in the main event in Aquacade, the talented mare coming off an eye-catching first-up run in the Listed Matamata Cup (1600m). She looked like she may spoil race-favourite Legarto’s party when looming large inside at the 150m, but eventually finished three-quarters-of-a-length off her younger rival.

“She’s really well, it was a great effort fresh-up against Legarto,” Noble said.

“It was going to be about five weeks in between runs so we gave her a trial at Te Rapa last week and she surprised us there winning over 1000m, so I think she’s pretty right for tomorrow.”

A daughter of middle-distance powerhouse Dundeel, Aquacade steps up to a more preferred 2050m distance in the feature at Pukekohe’s Melbourne Cup race-day, assisted by the services of premiership-leading hoop Warren Kennedy in the saddle.

Aquacade will contest a smaller seven-horse field in the Balmerino, including the likes of this year’s Gr.2 Auckland Cup (3200m) victor in Platinum Invador, as well as classy middle-distance performers in Defibrillate, Aromatic and Dionysus.

“2000m should suit her, she’s got a good record at Pukekohe and she measures up pretty well, there’s some smart horses in there and she’s the second-youngest of the lot as a five-year-old mare.

“In the smaller field everyone should get their chance, Pukekohe has such a long straight so I’m sure she’ll get her opportunity,” Noble said.

The bookmakers strongly favour the mare’s chances as she currently sits at an opening quote of $1.70, with the Lisa Latta-trained Platinum Invador at $4.40.

Noble, who is the private trainer for Cambridge Stud’s Brendan and Jo Lindsay, will also have two key chances in the other feature event, the Listed Fulton Family Stakes (1500m).

The first of these is consistent Zoustar gelding Habana, the five-year-old resuming strongly with a narrow third behind Johny Johny in the Gr.3 Sweynesse Stakes (1200m), and brings an impeccable record of four wins from five starts at the venue.

“He’s come through that well, he’s a lot stronger this year than he was last year and his record at Pukekohe is really strong,” Noble said.

“He is carrying 59kg in a handicap and drawn a bit awkwardly (12) but I’m really happy with where he is going into the race.

Irish mare Terra Mitica was imported by the Lindsay’s from the United Kingdom as a future broodmare prospect, and will seek maiden black-type success with Jasmine Fawcett aboard carrying a favourable 53kg.

A two-time winner over 2000m in her origin country, the Ulysses five-year-old surprised Noble with a flashing turn-of-foot over 1400m at Te Rapa in her first New Zealand start, coming from near last at the home turn to finish less than a length from the winner and Pukekohe race-rival Zaila.  

“This race timing wise may be a little bit short for her, but the long straight will suit her and drawing wide (14) she’ll probably get back and hopefully be storming home late under the light weight.

“We’re hoping to enhance her value before she goes to stud next season, but she’s shown enough for us to say we can hopefully get some black-type with her in New Zealand.”

The Karaka conditioner will also present some nice chances in the undercard including three-year-old filly About Time in the NZB Ready To Run Trainers Series 1200, who was solid on debut when third behind an impressive About A Girl at Tauranga.

“She was solid first-up and got beaten by a pretty good horse,” Noble said.

“She’s drawn the outside so it’s not going to be easy for her, she’s only having her second start and drawing 16’s not ideal but we’ll get a really good line on her tomorrow. If she ran in the first four or five I’d be over the moon.”

Four-year-old mare Flamebird will have the advantage of the ace draw in a competitive Hallmark Stud 1400, having produced two solid finishes to date this preparation.

“She was a good third last time, this is her first time going past 1200m but she’s drawn one so should get an economical run if she gets the breaks,” Noble said.

“She showed a fair bit of promise last year and I think she’s getting back to that form now, so we expect her to go well.”

Impending mare Ominous will also be seeking her maiden victory in the Up The Wahs 1600, after performing smartly fresh-up over 1400m to finish runner-up behind Elton Rocks.

“She went well fresh-up and she’s improved with that. The 1600 should suit her and eventually we're hoping to get her over 2000m, but as I said with the long Pukekohe straight everything gets their chance.”

Aquacade Lance Noble Brendan and Jo Lindsay Cambridge Stud Habana Terra Mitica Ominous Flamebird Zaila About Time Gr.3 Balmerino Stakes Luberon Zoustar Dundeel Listed Fulton Family Stakes Gr.1 Barneswood Farm New Zealand 1000 Guineas