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Craig Newitt earned praise from the Mick Price stable despite riding against instructions on Secret Hills to land the Echuca Workers And Services Club Handicap at Moonee Valley.

Price was adamant before Saturday’s 1200m event that he didn’t want the Starcraft gelding to lead but Newitt, after summing up the early speed, made a judgment call which could not have worked out better.

Price’s assistant trainer Mick Nolan described Newitt’s ride as “brilliant”.

“Before the race everyone said there was plenty of pace but when there was no pace on he (Newitt) was positive, slowed them down to a walk and the horse did the rest,” Nolan said.

Newitt said his plan to try and take sit did not look the right option as soon as the field jumped.

“The two outside me that were going to cross me I didn’t think had much hope so I gave him a squeeze, let him lead, and after he got a cheap sectional down the side he gave me a really good kick and savaged the line,” he said.

Secret Hills ($5.50) bounded clear in the straight to score by 3-3/4 lengths from favourite Upbeat ($3.80) and Graskop ($6.50).

“This is not a bad little horse,” Nolan said.

“He is still very immature in the head but has been very tough since day one.

“I think he’s got a fair future.”

Secret Hills, who was unplaced in a Blue Diamond Preview at his debut and last start resumed with a win at Bendigo, also impresses Newitt.

“He is pretty good,” Newitt said.

“He jumps on the bunny and does everything right.

“He relaxed really good today and when they went to challenge him on the corner he put them away pretty quick.”

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