“Now he is running in million-dollar races and, if he show he can run a mile, we are looking at the Doncaster.”
There has always been the suspicion that Noble Boy would be at his best when he got to 1600m.
“At his third start he won a Highway with James McDonald riding him, and he came back and said ‘he is very good and I can’t wait until he gets to a mile’,” Blowes said.
“That has stuck with me, but we haven’t got to find out if he was right until Saturday.”
Noble Boy won seven of his first eight starts. His only defeat came in the Goulburn Country Championships heat in February, and he made amends for that in the Wildcard at Muswellbrook before taking the Country Championship Final at Randwick.
The five-year-old won his next start at Eagle Farm during the winter carnival but, in four runs since, he has found it tougher.
“At the beginning he was just better than the horses he was meeting,” Blowes said. “He is into his right grade now, and it is not as easy.
“I actually think The Gong is the first time he has got to his right distance, but it might be the toughest race he has run in.
“We have been holding him back from the mile because of the races he could run in, like the Country Championships and the Kosciuszko [where he was a closing third].
“All of his runs have been good this preparation. He has been running home in amazing time. He just needed a bit more luck.
“I think at the mile he can be a couple of pairs closer and still have that turn of foot, especially after drawing four. If he does, he will be hard to beat.”
Noble Boy gets into The Gong with only 53kg and Blowes decided to stick with Brodie Loy, who has rode him to fourth in the Goulburn Cup and when he flew home for third in the Chatham Stakes during the Flemington carnival.
“He has done a good job and committed to get down to the weight,” Blowes said. “We have been doing a lot of walking together to get him down to the weight.
“He is in his sweat gear and I’m in a t-shirt and shorts sweating more than him.
“He knows the horse, which is important, and I’m confident he will get the job done again.”
The Gong, like most big mile handicaps, is a wide open betting affair. Noble Boy shares the third line of betting at $7.50, with Epsom placegetter Star Of The Seas and Military Zone.
Luvaluva is the $5.50 favourite in front of El Dorado Dreaming and Goulburn Cup winner Quackerjack at $6.
John Sargent has targeted The Gong with Luvaluva, who gets the blinkers on again as she returns to where she won the Kembla Grange Classic as a three-year-old.
“She is a different mare now, much stronger and more mature,” Sargent said. “I have waited with the blinkers until she got to this race, knowing it would be her best trip.”
Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald