Smith Hoping Noches Recaptures Best In All Aged

It’s fair to say the autumn hasn’t gone to Matt Smith’s plan for Buenos Noches but he’s pinning his hopes on a step up in distance to turn things around in Saturday’s Group 1 $1.5m Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.

The four-year-old ended his spring with a respectable run in the TAB Everest and a second to Imperatriz at Group 1 level and Smith had every right to think his Group 1 turn wasn’t far away.

But since his fast-finishing first-up fourth in the Expressway Stakes, Buenos Noches hasn’t performed to expectation though Smith saw something in his last start TJ Smith run.

After drawing the outside gate, the entire had to be ridden conservatively and turned last before running on to be beaten just over two lengths by Chain Of Lightning over the 1200m.

“I thought he ran on pretty well,’’ Smith said.

“He was too far back to win but the main thing was that he found the line. He held his ground all the way and picked up and hit the line.

“You can’t give those sorts of sprinters a head start and beat them unless there’s a pattern to help you and there certainly wasn’t enough speed for him to win.

“I thought it was a pass and he’s pulled up well. He’s had the right number of runs under his belt and heading to 1400m should be ideal. Hopefully he can bounce back.”

Buenos Noches clocked the third fastest last 600m of the TJ running 34.37 (Punter’s Intelligence).

Smith said the decision to use blinkers backfired in the Newmarket and The Galaxy but aside from that there’s only one other factor he feels may be preventing him from recapturing his 2023 form.

“I can’t see anything different in him other than maybe he is a little more colty than he used to be,’’ he said.

“That’s the only thing I can see. He’s not out of control but I wonder maybe that’s had a bearing.

“I just think he’s looking for further. The blinkers was a wrong move, that didn’t work at all but I thought he was near his best the other day.”

Mark Zahra rides Buenos Noches, $31 with TAB on Wednesday, and Smith said a favourable barrier and the promise of some speed gives the horse every chance.

“As long as he jumps well and can hold a spot somewhere where he’s comfortable that’d be good. He just wants a good genuine gallop,’’ he said.

Stablemate French Endeavour showed she was on target for Smith’s aim of the Group 3 $250,000 MostynCopper James HB Carr Stakes (1400m) with a close-up third two weeks ago but he concedes she faces a job after drawing the outside.

He’s booked James McDonald for the ride and the filly comes into the race on the back of being beaten under a length by Facile in the PJ Bell.

“It’s not a good start when you draw out there,’’ he said.

“She’s going really well, she’s flying and I thought from a good gate she’d be right in it.”

– Racing NSW

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