Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
History may be against last-start Epsom Handicap winner Secret Admirer to win the Cox Plate 2011 on Saturday, but trainer Grahame Begg is confident his mare has the ability to overcome the odds after he was able to select gate three for her at Tuesday morning’s Cox Plate barrier draw.
Dubawi four-year-old Secret Admirer became a dual Group 1 winner on October 1 when she defeated a quality field, including runner-up and fellow Cox Plate acceptor Pinker Pinker, to take out the Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick.
She is now set to make her Melbourne and 2000 metre debut in Saturday’s $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), Secret Admirer to jump from barrier three in the 14-starter plus two emergency field as she attempts to become the first horse since Noholme (1959) to claim the Epsom Handicap – Cox Plate double in the same year.
“There’s a bit of history against us…but she’s ticked all the boxes all the way through,” Begg said.
“We wanted to make sure we were a realistic chance.
“I think she’s the right horse.”
There have been a number of horses to win both the Epsom Handicap and the Cox Plate throughout their careers, but what would make the feat so special if Secret Admirer succeeds on Saturday, is doing so in the same season.
Secret Admirer defied a hoodoo in winning the Epsom, becoming the first mare to do so since La Neige (1976), and now Begg hopes she can successfully confront history again on Saturday.
“The record’s meant to be broken, let’s hope she can jump the next hurdle,” he said.
Begg was over the moon with having been able to select barrier three for Secret Admirer, saying that with the likely genuine pace in this year’s Cox Plate, jockey Brenton Avdulla would be instructed to settle her just back from the leaders on Saturday.
“That’s the right gate,” Begg said.
“We wanted to draw somewhere between seven and 11.
“Obviously there looks to be a good pace on paper.
“She’ll just get back off them a little bit and hopefully she’s strong at the finish.”
Secret Admirer has been working well in the lead-up to Saturday according to Begg who said she had been showing little of her customary anxiety in trackwork.
“She’s always been a filly all the way through her career that’s always been a bit anxious in her work,” Begg said.
“(But) she’s gone around (Moonee Valley this morning) very, very well.”
Running over 1000 metres this morning Secret Admirer finished in a time of 1:07.7, her final 400 metres in 24.26 seconds, which was slightly slower than the 23.99 last 400m the Jim Conlan-trained Rekindled Interest clocked when defeating Jimmy Choux.
As for being as yet untested over the distance, Begg is confident Secret Admirer has the ability to make the trip and pointed out the record of her damn, Secret Savings mare Secret Illusion.
“That’s the great unknown,” he said.
“She’s got the stamina on her dam’s side.
“We think there’s no reason to think that she can’t (make the distance).
“She has won two Group 1 races in just eight starts so she is well above average.
“I can’t say she will definitely run 2040 metres but there will be pace in the race which is ideal for her, given she will get back.”
As for Secret Admirer’s dangers in the Cox Plate, Begg was quick to name the two top elects in the Cox Plate odds, Helmet ($3.50) and Jimmy Choux ($3.60).
“I think Helmet’s going to be very, very hard to beat with the lightweight (49.5kg),” Begg said.
“And Jimmy Choux, he has been specifically set for this race.”
In the latest Cox Plate markets at Luxbet Secret Admirer occupies the third line of betting at a quote of $12, equal with Michael Moroney’s narrow Turnbull Stakes runner-up Glass Harmonium.
View the full odds and Cox Plate betting options now open at Luxbet, including their Best Tote Exotics + 5% Bonus open on every race at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
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