Back to where it all began: Mayfield-Smith targets Taree feature

Noel Mayfield-Smith will head to Taree on Friday with Invictus Felix taking on the $34,000 Hopkins Livermore Cup. Photo: Racing Photography.

Noel Mayfield-Smith boasts a distinguished career as a trainer, preparing five Group One winners and training countless other horses to feature race victories. 

After starting out his career at Broadmeadow in the early 1990s, Mayfield-Smith soon prepared his first winner at Taree, with Dismasted emerging victorious in a 1400m Maiden Handicap.

The legendary trainer would then move to Hawkesbury before pulling up stumps earlier this year, selling his property and moving to Coffs Harbour with his wife, Emma.

Funnily enough, the veteran trainer will return to Taree 30 years after his maiden victory, searching for a win in the Hopkins-Livermore Cup with Invictus Felix.

“Strangely enough, and it is funny what fate is, I won my very first race at Taree back in 1991,” Mayfield-Smith laughed. 

“It was a maiden over 1400m with an Argentinian horse called Dismasted. I haven’t raced there much. I took one there last meeting but that is about it.”

Invictus Felis is a progressive five-year-old, having won his last two races, including a Class One over the 1400m journey at Orange back in April, which was followed by a short spell and a winning return at Coffs Harbour in a 1205m Class Three earlier this month. 

“He is a horse we have always had an opinion of,” Mayfield-Smith explained. 

“I thought he had a very good chance in this race, particularly if there is a bit of speed on in the race – his work has been terrific.”

Connections have drawn gate two and Jeff Penza jumps aboard the Poet’s Voice gelding, with Mayfield-Smith hinting that his charge would need to be ridden very quietly if he was to win the $34,000 feature over the 1412m trip.

“You have to ride him quiet. If you analyse his form, when he runs up on the speed, he runs terrible,” Mayfield-Smith said. 

“He is a horse that has to come late, as he has in all of his wins.”

Mayfield-Smith, who only made the move to Coffs Harbour in April, said he has thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery. 

“I am very much enjoying it. We have 10 in work at the moment and we are looking to build up to about 20,” he said.

“You can train horses the way you want to do it out here and not have to be in the big city.”

The Hopkins-Livermore Cup is the first big meeting of the Taree racing season and adds to a busy time in the NSW’s Mid-North Coast and Northern Rivers racing regions.

Jeff Penza will ride The Noel Mayfield-Smith trained Invictus Felix in Friday’s Hopkins Livermore Cup at Taree. Photo: Racing Photography.

The top trainer believed the region was an ‘untapped’ goldmine for country racing. 

“I think Racing NSW need to send someone up here and look at the potential,” Mayfield-Smith said. 

“The Coffs Harbour Cup Day here with Covid was still huge and there was a mass of young people enjoying the day and the town had a half-day holiday.

“There is plenty of potential here. It is really untapped.”

In what looms as a huge day for Taree, an eight-race-program jumps at 12.30pm and the feature event will conclude the meeting at 4.45pm. 

Full fields can be viewed here.