Randwick-based horseman Grahame Begg is hoping his Group 1 winning mare Secret Admirer can resume with a first-up victory in the $100,000 Listed Toy Show Quality Handicap (1300m) at Warwick Farm this Saturday and stamp their claims for a 2011 Cox Plate assignment.
Begg has the four-year-old daughter of Dubawi nominated for both the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15 and the esteemed $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) running at the Valley on October 22, but believes the Cox Plate is the more viable aim for Secret Admirer.
“She’s there for the Cox Plate if her form warrants it, but if not, we can wait until the mares’ race on Derby Day,” he said.
That race is the $500,000 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday October 29, but based on Secret Admirer’s impressive for to date, the Cox Plate looks an achievable aim.
Her odds to win are also very generous if you bet online with Luxbet.
Lightly-raced with just four starts to her name, Secret Admirer was last seen defeating the likes of More Strawberries and Parables in the Group 1 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on October 2.
The Flight Stakes success was impressive considering Secret Admirer had the far outside barrier to overcome and hinted that the mare has more than just average ability.
It also boosted her record to two wins and two thirds from four starts, a record that Begg believes could have been even better had Secret Admirer had more luck in the barrier department.
“She really could be unbeaten,” he said.
“We knew we had something well above average to do what she did early on in her preparation, but the Flight (Stakes) sealed it as far as showing she might be a bit special.”
On Saturday she will look to add a third victory to her record as she faces off against the likes of Peter Snowden’s last-start Ramornie Handicap winner Jerezana, Coolmore Classic runner-up Jersey Lily and the ultra-consistent Chris Waller-trained mare Red Tracer in the 2011 Toy Show Quality.
“Secret Admirer has been in work since the middle of May to give her a good foundation after the long break,” Begg said.
Begg also has his Randwick Guineas winner Ilovethiscity resuming at Warwick Farm on Saturday, the galloper nominated for both the $100,000 Listed Show County Quality (1200m) and the day’s feature race, the $175,000 Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m).
At this stage Begg is leaning towards the easier Show County for Ilovethiscity after an imposing list of entries were nominated for the Warwick Stakes including Black Piranha, Linton, Maluckyday, Pinwheel, Shootoff and Startsmeup.
Also nominated for the Cox Plate 2011 along with Secret Admirer, Begg believes that Magic Albert four-year-old Ilovethiscity may be just short of the 2040 metres.
“I think the mile pulls him up,” Begg said.
“He can run a mile on good ground.
“Unfortunately the Doncaster (Mile) was on a very heavy track, but he still ran very well (fifth).
“We really feel he’s a good 1400 metre horse – I just hope he can take the next step.”
Begg holds high hopes for both Secret Admirer and Ilovethiscity, who are paying $61 and $51 respectively in the latest Cox Plate odds at Luxbet, going into Saturday and beyond.
“They are both in good shape,” he said.
“It would be nice to think my two can take the next step this time.”
Begg has looked at the competition and thinks there is a genuine lack of a standout weight-for-age stars on the Sydney scene, giving him every hope that his horses can continue the trend of Warwick Stakes Day winners progressing onto bigger and better things.
“I think they’re probably lacking a bit here int eh Sydney weight-for-age ranks,” he said.
“Rangirangdoo has gone by the wayside for the spring, More Joyous is a little bit behind and from the rest, I don’t think there’s any real star weight-for-age horses, so there’s a void to be filled.”
Both horses will be ridden by Brenton Avdulla, who is looking forward especially to reuniting with Secret Admirer who gave the hoop his maiden thoroughbred major in the Flight Stakes.
“They’re two of my favourites,” Avdulla said.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for the filly (Secret Admirer) because she was my first Group One winner but then when she went amiss I had to find another horse and he (Ilovethiscity) put himself there at the right time.
“I’ve had a bit of luck on him (winning the Randwick Guineas), he’s good to ride and those two have given me two biggest highlights.
“I’m hoping one of them can win me more of a major, maybe even in the spring if everything goes to plan.
“I think they’ll both have their first few runs here in Sydney and then they might head down to Melbourne at the end of the carnival.
“At the moment we’re just hoping for good runs off them this week and I’m pretty excited to ride them.”