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Trainer Grahame Begg is confident his ultra-consistent mare Secret Admirer is ready to hit top form again this Saturday when she defends her title in the 2012 Epsom Handicap at Royal Randwick.
The daughter of Dubawi won the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) four runs into her Sydney Spring Racing Carnival campaign last year and on Saturday will vie for back-to-back wins in the classic mile.
Having recorded five more Group 1 minor placings since her Epsom triumph 12 months ago the now five-year-old is set to finally add another elite level trophy to her cabinet according the Begg.
“I think she’s peaking at the right time,” Begg said.
“Her coat has really come on in the past two weeks.”
She will again be racing fourth-up in the Epsom Handicap 2012 after three promising runs, all under weight-for-age conditions, this time in.
Secret Admirer resumed with a first-up second to Pinwheel in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) then ran second again this time to Danleigh in the Group 2 Chelmsord Stakes (1600m).
Last start she finished a brave third to fellow Epsom hopefuls Shoot Out and Rangirangdoo, both prepared by Chris Waller, in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick two weeks ago.
“We don’t know whether it’s been the pace of the race that’s been coming against her a little bit, or the weight-for-age,” Begg said of the fact Secret Admirer hasn’t won a race since her Epsom victory last spring.
“The other day (in the George Main) it was a bit farcically-run in the middle stages and then they really pinged. She only got beaten two-and-a-half lengths.”
While it is shaping up as a tough edition of the Epsom this weekend, Begg remains confident his mare can turn the tables on her recent conquerors and score her third Group 1 victory – Secret Admirer having also won the Flight Stakes on Epsom Handicap Day two years ago, her 54kg a major advantage as she gets back to handicap conditions.
“The thing with her is that we want to get her back winning,” Begg said.
“We thought we’d give her a chance to get back to a handicap and it’s at Randwick which she loves. She’s also won a Group One on this day in the past two years.”
Helping boost Begg’s confidence was a sharp piece of work from Secret Admirer on the course proprer at Randwick on Tuesday morning.
“She has trained on well since her last start, she’s back to a handicap and we thought she galloped very, very well this morning,” the trainer said.
“She did the normal short, sharp work and up the running she strode out really well.”
The 2012 Epsom Handicap final field and barrier draw is set for release shortly so stay tuned.
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