Sparingly raced stayer Cadre Du Noir has set himself on a path to stakes races this spring with a gutsy performance at Randwick.
Injuries have restricted the seven-year-old to just 14 starts and while he might not reach the heights he could have if sound, co-trainer Ciaron Maher still believes he has something to offer.
Cadre Du Noir ($5 fav) took the first step on that path on Saturday, lumping topweight of 60kg to wear down leader So United ($7.50) and nail him by a half-neck in the RMHC Sydney Handciap (2400m) and Maher said there was improvement to come.
“We did have quite a high opinion of Cadre Du Noir and we were hoping he could get back to his best,” Maher said.
“He is still a bit ring rusty, he was having a good blow after the race and James (McDonald) felt he was still on the up.
“He is a horse that I feel is up to stakes level, country Cups or a Group 2 or 3. I don’t think he is much higher than that.”
Maher felt the expertise of Sydney’s premier jockey was the difference over the final 50m with the first two across the line streeting third placegetter Our Candidate ($6) by five lengths.
The victory gave McDonald a race-to-race double after he partnered Bazooka to an overdue win in the Midway Handicap (1800m) and the top jockey said Cadre Du Noir did an outstanding job to chase down So United.
“He did a good job to run down that leader because it wasn’t stopping,” McDonald said.