GRAHAME Begg has defended criticism of Secret Admirer’s form by declaring the star mare is racing better now than she was prior to her spectacular Epsom Handicap win last year.
“She is running in stronger races this spring and competing very well,” the trainer said.
“The forecast of a few showers on Epsom Day won’t do her any harm, either.
“She has come up on this day the last two years – let’s hope she can make it three!”
Secret Admirer will create her own piece of racing history if she can win the Group l $500,000 The Star Epsom (1600m) at Royal Randwick tomorrow.
The brilliant five-year-old has made a habit of peaking on Epsom Day – winning the Group 1 Flight Stakes at this meeting two years ago before her memorable, fast-finishing Epsom triumph last spring.
She became the first mare in 35 years to win the Epsom, leading home a mares’ trifecta with subsequent Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker and Red Tracer in the minor placing.
If Secret Admirer can go back-to-back in the Epsom tomorrow, she will become the first mare in the race’s long history to win the famous Randwick “mile” twice.
In fact, only seven horses have won multiple Epsom since the race was first run in 1865 Masquerade (1882, 1883), Melodrama (1907, 1908), Amounis (1926, 1928), Chatham (1932, 1933), Toi Port (1963, 1964), Super Impose (1990, 1991), and Desert War (2004, 2005).
Secret Admirer hasn’t won since the Epsom last spring but Begg maintains there has been nothing wrong with the mare’s lead-up form.
Her recent third behind Epsom rivals Shoot Out and Rangirangdoo in the George Main Stakes was described as “disappointing” by some but not her trainer.
“How can you criticize her form? Begg said.
“She has worked home well in all three runs this spring.
“In the George Main Stakes, it probably didn’t look as good because of the pace of the race and there were two Group 1 winners who beat her home.
“They adapted better to the tempo than she did and left her a bit flat-footed but that is what happens in weight-for-ages races.
“You can’t condemn her on that run and the Epsom is a different race all together.”
Begg is banking on the Epsom being run like it is most years, at a solid pace, to give Secret Admirer the opportunity to again unleash her powerful finishing burst.
“Her biggest issues is having her races run at a genuine tempo,” he continued.
“She got beaten in the Shannon Quality last year a week out before the Epsom when they ran home in 33s.
“She just didn’t adapt to the pace of that race but came out next start and won the Epsom.
Begg said Secret Admirer’s Epsom effort will determine which races he targets with the mare in Melbourne this spring.
The trainer said the $2.5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 20 was still a possibility for his outstanding mare.
Begg is aware that Imposera (1988) and Might And Power (1997) were beaten in the Epsom before backing up two weeks later and winning the Caulfield Cup.
“It can be done, it isn’t impossible,” Begg said of a Caulfield Cup start.
“We haven’t ruled it out.”