Nobu confirmed his status as the horse to beat in the Queensland Derby next month and showed his fighting qualities to make it back-to-back wins at Randwick on Saturday.
Chris Waller’s progressive stayer knuckled down late to edge out Derby rival Carif by a nose in the Mizuno Benchmark 74 Handicap (2000m), with Think It Over 2-3/4 lengths back in third.
“He’s really turned into a professional,” Waller’s racing manager Charlie Duckworth said.
“He had to dig deep to attack the horse that was all but home. He is obviously a very fit horse heading into a Derby.
“Hopefully he can win a Group I for some really famous owners."
Nobu firmed from $6 to $4.50 favourite in the TAB’s Derby market after the win.
Jockey Jason Collett earned his cheque after getting the best out of Waller’s son of Reliable Man in a desperate run to the line.
Carif laid out twice in the straight, but Nobu balanced up in time to get up in his final strides.
“I think if we had to go to the stewards we may have got up anyway but it was a good determined effort,” Collett said.
“He copped two decent pieces of interference late but he kept coming.”
Nobu has finished no worse than second in three runs since making a failed New Zealand Derby bid earlier this year.
Duckworth was happy to put a line through his Derby run on the other side of the Tasman, but had no doubt Nobu had benefited from the overseas experience.
“He came back from New Zealand a different horse,” Duckworth said.
“I don’t know if it’s because he had a visitors passage in the Derby but I think it made a bit of a man of him.
“He used to half suck back out of runs and not be that game, but now he is in for a dog fight and he loves it.”
Josh Parr admitted Carif was his own worst enemy in the straight.
“He threw it away,” he said.
“He hit the front and didn’t know how to go on with it but he’s a nice horse in the making.”
Carif, trained by Peter and Paul Snowden, is an $8 second favourite for the Derby, which will be held at Eagle Farm on June 8. -racenet