Howlett ready to make some noise in Phar Lap Stakes

Jay Ford and Todd Howlett after Noisy Boy won the $100,000 Super Maiden at Randwick in September. The pair will team up again on Saturday when taking on the Phar Lap Stakes. Image: Bradley Photos.

For the second Saturday in a row, Muswellbrook trainer Todd Howlett will travel to Sydney with ambitions of winning a Group race. 

On Saturday, the stable unleashed Mic Drop for the first time.

Racing at Royal Randwick, the two-year-old finished sixth when beaten just over two lengths in the Group 2 $300,000 Reisling Stakes.

Ridden by Tommy Berry, the Microphone filly showed enough to suggest that Howlett and connections have a promising galloper on their hands. 

This coming Saturday, Howlett will start Noisy Boy in the Group 2 $300,000 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.

The astute conditioner became the first trainer to win a Metropolitan Super Maiden when Noisy Boy took out the $100,000 Maiden Handicap (1550m) at Randwick on September 6. 

Ridden by Jay Ford, the Real Steel gelding led throughout before cruising to a four-length victory. 

“For sure, it was a big thrill,” Howlett told NSW Country and Picnic Racing

“His runs had been good going into it, and we were confident he would run well.”

The three-year-old went on to start in the Listed Dulcify Stakes (1600m) and Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Royal Randwick late last year, finishing down the track on both occasions before going to the paddock. 

First-up from an 18-week spell, Noisy Boy was making ground when finishing sixth, beaten five and a half lengths by Belvedere Boys in a 1400m Class Three Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens on February 24. 

Second-up into a Group 2 on Saturday, Howlett conceded it was a tall ask for Noisy Boy, and while he didn’t want to get ahead of himself, he was keen to take a throw at the stumps.  

“I am thinking he is going to be a better horse over a trip,” Howlett said.

“We’re aiming to get him over more ground, and Saturday’s race is probably a classy race and a big step up, but we’re happy with how he is going into it. 

“He’s drawn a good barrier, and I wouldn’t say I’m going there confident, but I’m happy with the horse, and we’re getting a feeling of where the horse should be racing.”

Howlett will trek to Sydney with his tail up.

The stable has been firing this season with 19 winners at a career-best 13.3% strike rate. 

Following wins win Canny Prospect at Dubbo and Devil’s Inn at Newcastle in February, Howlett made the trip to Dubbo on Friday, training a rare winning treble. 

Jeff Penza helped Sheza Rainbird ($4.40) to victory in the 1300m Maiden Plate before Mikayla Weir guided Pocket Sage ($21) to a rough result in the 1000m Class One Handicap. 

Making it a race-to-race-to-race treble, Penza won on So You Suggest ($3.90) in the 1100m Maiden Handicap. 

“They don’t happen that often,” Howlett quipped when asked about his winning treble at Dubbo. 

“It’s hard enough to get one winner, let alone a treble, so it was great.” 

The stable held aspirations of a winning double, but Howlett admitted Pocket Sage’s win surprised even him.

“I thought I had a couple of chances,” Howlett said. 

“So You Suggest was probably our best chance, and I thought Sheza Rainbird was going to be thereabouts and run a good race. 

“With Pocket Sage, I was not overly confident; I only bought him as a trial horse. 

“I’ve got a couple of girls learning to be apprentices, and it is hard to get trial rides, so I bought him. 

“Gabby (Gabrielle Johnston) has had a couple of trials on him, and I thought I’d take him to the races and see if he could pay his feed bill, and he won.”

With 38 horses in work and 14 staff on the books, it’s a team effort, and Howlett is thankful to those involved. 

“We’ve got some nice young horses coming through, and everything is good,” Howlett said. 

“We’ve got great staff, and that’s a big thing. Everyone has been putting in the effort, and everything is working well at the moment.

“We’ve got a big team, and we’re all over the shop, but you’ve just got to take them where they’re the best chance of winning.”

That’s certainly the case over the next few days. 

While Howlett will race Noisy Boy in Sydney, he has runners at Muswellbrook on Friday, Coonamble on Sunday, Tuncurry on Monday, and Hawkesbury on Tuesday.