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Noble Protector will be out to bounce back from a disappointing spring in her defence of the Group Three race she won a year ago.

The Robert Smerdon-trained mare streeted her rivals by 4-1/2 lengths first-up in the 2015 Schweppervescence Trophy at Flemington before winning the Group Two Sunline Stakes and finishing second in the Group One Queen Of The Turf Stakes.

But the six-year-old failed to fire during a two-start spring campaign in the Let’s Elope Stakes and Toorak Handicap.

“Clearly she wasn’t the same horse in the spring as what we saw last autumn,” jockey Craig Williams said.

“If she does reproduce her form from the autumn a year ago then she would be winning this race, but she still has to produce that form on the racetrack.”

Williams was frank in his assessment of how he felt the mare was going heading into Saturday’s Schweppervescence Trophy (1400m).

“She’s better than the spring, but not as good as last year,” Williams said.

“I’m looking forward to riding her. She’s had enough trials. She’s been well prepared for this race and I’m looking forward to her getting back on the racetrack.”

Noble Protector has had three barrier trials to prepare for her first-up assignment and is on the second line of betting at $3.50 behind the well-supported Miss Rose De Lago ($2.90).

The Danny O’Brien-trained Miss Rose De Lago was a close third in the Group Three Mannerism Stakes, won by Azkadellia, two weeks ago.

Azkadellia is challenging three-year-old Ghisoni for favouritism in Saturday’s Group One Coolmore Classic at Rosehill.

 
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