A trip to New Zealand appears to have been the making of Nobu who will be given the chance to win the season's last Classic in Queensland.
The Chris Waller-trained gelding crossed the Tasman for and unsuccessful bid at the NZ Derby at Ellerslie at the beginning of March.
Waller brought him back to Sydney where he has had three starts since for a second and two wins including Saturday's Mizuno Handicap (2000m) at Randwick to cement $4.50 favouritism for the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) in two weeks.
"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.
"He came back from New Zealand a different horse.
"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."
Ridden by Jason Collett, Nobu lunged on the line to beat Carif by a nose.
Collett said he believed it would have been interesting had Nobu been beaten given Carif laid out in the straight.
"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, who was bred by Max Whitby, was purchased out of Trelawney Stud's 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock draft for $250,000. -AAP