Running second has been the unwelcome trend for Grahame Begg in the new season but the Randwick trainer isn’t fazed by the run of close calls.
Instead, he heads to Rosehill on Saturday expecting high-class mare Secret Admirer to enhance her Epsom Handicap credentials.
Like David Payne before Master Of Design’s Theo Marks victory on Golden Rose day, Begg’s Sydney spring carnival so far has been a series of near misses.
It started on Warwick Stakes day with Ilovethiscity in the weight-for-age race and Secret Admirer in the Toy Show Quality.
The run of outs continued when Secret Admirer was narrowly beaten in the Tramway.
Epsom favourite Sincero then provided Group One heartache for Begg when Sincero rallied from the brink of defeat off a wide passage to beat Ilovethiscity in last week’s George Main Stakes.
Knowing he has Secret Admirer close to peak condition, Begg says it’s time to convert placings into a Shannon Stakes win on Saturday.
“My horses keep finishing second but at least we are in contention and I’m pleased to be a part of it (the carnival),” Begg said.
Begg has set Secret Admirer for the Epsom-Cox Plate double and is working on a proven race progression to add another Randwick Group One mile race to her record.
Almost 12 months ago Secret Admirer followed a Reginald Allen placing with a Flight Stakes triumph.
“That’s the main reason why I’ve waited three weeks between the Tramway and the Shannon,” Begg said.
“The seven-day back-up agrees with her … it’s worked before with the Flight Stakes last year.
“I’m hoping history can repeat itself.
“For a Group One winner I think she is fairly handicapped in the Epsom.”
Having her second start since last year’s Flight Stakes, Secret Admirer was beaten a nose by Sincero in the Tramway.
“The Tramway has turned out to be a great form race with Sincero and (third-placed) Thankgodyou’rehere coming out and winning,” Begg said.
With weights almost certain to be raised at acceptance time, Secret Admirer will carry 52.5kg in the Epsom with Ilovethiscity, also a Group One winner as a three-year-old, asked to carry 55.5kg.
Begg’s resume is missing a Group One handicap victory over the famous Randwick mile but Secret Admirer and Ilovethiscity have been well found by TAB Sportsbet assessors for Saturday week’s Epsom.
Secret Admirer is second favourite at $5 with Ilovethiscity on the third line at $8.50.
Along with the $3.80 favourite Sincero, they are the only Epsom entries under double-figure odds.
Brenton Avdulla will ride Secret Admirer on Saturday and has selected the mare ahead of Ilovethiscity as his Epsom mount.