By Ray Hickson
Kembla Grange trainer Theresa Bateup sees every new horse as a chance to learn so she had no hesitation in taking on 2019 Country Championships winner Noble Boy.
The rising seven-year-old returns to the scene of his biggest win when has his first start since November in the Listed $150,000 Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Noble Boy is now with his third trainer having started out with Todd Blowes at Queanbeyan before moving to Clare Cunningham at Warwick Farm.
Since leaving the city he’s spent plenty of time spelling at his owner’s property and when Donna Smart phoned Bateup with an offer to train it was one she couldn’t refuse.
“He’s a horse that I followed all along and it’s nice to be dealing with horses of that calibre,’’ Bateup said.
“You learn something off every horse and when you get the chance to work with a horse of his calibre it’s a good learning opportunity.
“He’s a lovely animal, he has a great attitude about him and seems to be quite happy and content. He’s going around nice and relaxed in his work so I’m hoping that’s a sign he is enjoying life at Kembla.
“The owner always said if at any stage I didn’t think he was up to it or he wasn’t interested we weren’t going to run for the sake of running him. But he’s ticked along nicely and seems to be enjoying it all so far.”
Bateup has given Noble Boy, $19 with TAB on Thursday, two public gallops in preparation for a return.
He won a four horse barrier trial at Kembla a month ago then stepped out for a race day exhibition gallop on May 25.
Andrew Adkins rode the gelding in both of those hit-outs but, pleased as she is with the build up, Bateup sees the Bob Charley as another opportunity to learn.
She has pencilled in next month’s Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton on July 7 as a possible target unless he shows he’s looking for more ground in which case a race like the Winter Stakes, that he won last year, three days later may be more suitable.
“I’m not going there with huge expectations,’’ she said.
“He was far from fully wound up at the trial stage and it was more about stretching his legs and learning more about him.
“I’m treating it more or less as another trial and we get to learn more about him and get a gauge on where he is at.
“The 1100m is probably short of his best so we’ve kept him a little on the fresh side and we’re going to get a track with give in it. I’d like to see him finding the line.”
Noble Boy wins a trial at Kembla on May 12
Despite her reserved approach to the first-up run, Bateup is not ruling out the possibility that Noble Boy could put himself in the finish first-up on a wet track.
In his last preparation with Blowes the horse finished fourth in the 2019 The Kosciuszko, beaten 1.3 lengths on a good track, first-up and in his first campaign under Cunnginham he finished sixth when resuming in the 1100m Listed Ortensia Stakes, also on a good track.
“He’s a big lump of a horse but he hasn’t been over raced and we are at the time of year where we are getting tracks with the sting out of them which will help him,’’ she said.
“We haven’t had to trial him on rock hard tracks and at Kembla we have the polytrack now which has plenty of give in it.
“There is depth in that field but if we can get him near his best form we can find a nice race for him and put another win on the board.”