Mark Young’s rising eight-year-old warhorse Secret Flyer showed they still had plenty of speed in their arthritic old legs last Saturday with an upset win in Caulfield’s Sir John Monash Stakes.
Beating home a small but quality field of younger rivals Secret Flyer ($5.50) was ridden expertly by Luke Nolen, regular jockey to the world’s best racehorse Black Caviar, to finish a full length clear of the Darren Weir-trained Rue Maple ($13).
A further three-quarters of a length away third was David Brideoake’s $3.40 race favourite and Lightning Stakes placegetter, Octagonal filly Warm Love.
Secret Savings gelding Secret Flyer has now won 11 of their 38 career starts, Saturday’s well-deserved sprint win boosting their career earnings to over the half a million dollar mark ($529,023) and making them a dual stakes winner following their earlier victory in the 2009 Kensington Stakes.
“He’s got a lot of heart the horse, he really has,” Colac-based Young said on Saturday.
“What he lacks in class he makes up in competitive edge.”
It was a big effort from the injury-prone galloper who has battled with leg injuries and arthritis over his entire career.
“He’s got feet problems, and when you have them you’ve got problems for life,” Young explained.
“He’s got arthritis in both front joints.
“One’s more significant than the other, but it’s manageable.
“He’s on all the joint powders.
“If he was a stayer and you had to put the work in him he wouldn’t be here.
“He’s a fairly naturally fit horse so he doesn’t need much work.
“He trialled super at Geelong the other day and we’ve just swum him since.”
The Sir John Monash Stakes was Nolen’s first time aboard Secret Flyer, and he rode him spot on allowing early front-runners Gold Trail and Warm Love to set the pace before peeling him around the leaders on the bend to explode away on the straight.
“It was pretty easy in the end he probably had a look when he got there, because he was presented with the race,” Nolen said.
“Off the farcical tempo, I thought they’d be harder to run down at weight-for-age, but he rose to the challenge.”
The 58.5kg topweight of the field, Secret Flyer won the Sir John Monash Stakes in a time of 1:04.37 which was almost three seconds outside the track record set by Here De Angles.
Secret Flyer handed Nolen back-to-back Monash Stakes wins following his victory aboard the now retired Reward For Effort, the 2009 Blue Diamond Stakes winner that was prepared by Peter Moody.
Young named the $125,000 Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (12000m) at Caulfield on August 30 as the next race target for Secret Flyer, but said track conditions would determine whether the veteran ran in the feature.
He also commented that connections had no retirement plans as yet for the horse and they would be guided by how Secret Flyer pulls up after each run and prep.
“It’ll come to an end one day, they all do,” Young said.
“But we will manage him, ignore last spring and autumn, perhaps go to Sydney, anywhere there is give in the ground.
“Every run he has on a firm track is like having three.
“He’s only had 30-odd starts.
“From the knees up he’s a very sound horse.”