Grahame Begg’s hopes of winning the Epsom Handicap now rest with Saturday’s Shannon Stakes favourite Secret Admirer after Ilovethiscity was ruled out for the spring with a leg sprain.
Ilovethiscity, who finished a game second to Sincero in the Group One George Main Stakes last weekend, had been among the top fancies for the Epsom.
Begg said the four-year-old’s injury wasn’t severe but was enough to call a halt to his campaign.
“We discovered it yesterday (Thursday) afternoon and we had the leg scanned in the early evening,” Begg said.
“It showed no real damage … but we need to allow time for it to settle.
“It’s just what happens when you’re competing in these highly-competitive races.”
Begg also confirmed All Silent had been spelled, leaving Secret Admirer as his only contender for the Group One Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday week.
Secret Admirer will get the chance to press her claims in the Group Two Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday when her rivals will include Caulfield Cup winner Descarado, his Gai Waterhouse-trained stablemate Fast Clip and emerging talent Torio’s Quest.
Begg doesn’t fear them but he does have concerns over the rail placement and a possible lack of tempo.
“The rail being out six metres, that’s the biggest danger,” Begg said.
“That and the speed of the race.
“But she is well and happy.”
Secret Admirer finished third to M’lady Pedrille in the Reginald Allen Stakes on the corresponding program last year then backed up a week later to blouse her opposition and claim the Group One Flight Stakes (1600m).
Begg is sticking to the tried and tested formula and will again send Secret Admirer into her Group One assignment off a seven-day back-up.
The mare missed the autumn after suffering a setback but has returned in slashing style this spring, finishing a long neck second to Red Tracer first-up in the Toy Show Quality (1300m) and a nose behind Sincero in the Tramway Hcp (1400m), both at Warwick Farm.
Secret Admirer was the $2.30 Shannon favourite with TAB Sportsbet on Friday and $4.60 second elect for the Epsom behind Sincero ($3.70).
She has also been nominated for the Cox Plate but her program beyond the Epsom remains up in the air.
“I’ll just wait and see how her form reads after her next couple of runs,” Begg said.