By Ray Hickson
If you ever wondered why unassuming sprinter Noble Joey runs his best races from the front then this story is for you.
The six-year-old, a noted wet tracker, has won eight races and the common theme in each of those is he’s settled no further back than second and co-trainer Robert Price says it’s because if he were a person he’d be something of a jerk.
And he'd lack conviction if he didn't get his own way.
“He was raised on his own, he didn’t know he was a horse for a while,’’ Price said.
“He thought he was a dog or a person. He has a unique character there’s no doubt about it.
“At the races he’ll try to kick people, at home he’ll dive out and try to savage someone walking past.
“He’s a funny little fellow and not very community minded. That’s why he’s been a leader, he gets easily distracted in the pack.’’
For that reason Price elected to run Noble Joey in the Moet & Chandon Rose Sprint (1200m), where he’s a $13 chance with TAB, over the Winter Dash at Randwick on Saturday.
The gelding, who has earned just over $500,000 from his 39 starts, was placed behind Deprive two starts back at Randwick but dropped out after being attacked in the Listed June Stakes two weeks ago.
“I had him in the open because I love the thought of going around on heavy tracks with no weight,’’ Price said.
“But when I looked at the speed there was quite a bit whereas the race he’s in he’s pretty much the leader on his own.’’
With Brock Ryan’s 3kg claim Noble Joey carries 58.5kg. At this meeting last year he finished runner-up to She Knows on a heavy track so Price said he’ll be in his element.
“He’s never won on a heavy but he can handle it, I ride most of his fast work and he’s a swimmer there’s no doubt about it,’’ he said.
“The horse is well and Brock is riding well. He’s been riding well for a while but he just needs to get on the right horses.’’
Noble Joey runs third to Deprive at Randwick on May 25
Price is less confident about the in-form Spectre handling the heavy conditions but said the fact he is racing well gives him a fighting chance in the Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Mile (1600m).
The three-year-old put three Goulburn wins together before chasing home Pop Girl on a soft 6 at Warwick Farm and he gets in with just 52kg.
“I think it’s an awkward race for him, I’m not sure he’s that adept in the heavy but we’re giving him a go with no weight,’’ he said.
“He’s been a success story this preparation, a bundle of enthusiasm and that will take him a long way.’’
Spectre is a $34 chance and Price’s other runner Curata Princess is a $151 chance in the Moet & Chandon Grand Day (1200m) and he says the latter will run a lot better than her spot in the market suggests despite the trip being a long way short of perfect.
“She loves the wet and she will be strong late. She’s going to keep coming when they are starting to stop. I’d be surprised if she’s not finishing in the first half,’’ he said.