Secret Lady shows Golden Slipper potential

Nov 27, 2017

Gary Portelli, a master trainer of juveniles, is getting that Golden Slipper feeling again after Secret Lady led most of the way to win at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Secret Lady showed the benefit of race experience when she upset hot favourite Plague Stone in the $150,000 Golden Gift (1100m).

Portelli won the Golden Slipper last season with She Will Reign and in Secret Lady he has unearthed another likely contender for the world’s richest juvenile race, run at Rosehill on March 31.

“She is such a relaxed filly, she has a stack of ability, and I think she will only improve from here on,’’ Portelli said. “From day one, she has showed us a lot, she is a natural. I’ve got to say I have a stack of two-year-olds that can gallop this season, which is great for my owners, but this filly is the most precocious so far.’’

Secret Lady ($6) gave a thoroughly professional speed display to defeat Plague Stone ($1.35 favourite) by more than a length with Orcein ($41) running on late for an eye-catching third, a half length away.

After a brilliant Canterbury barrier trial win, Godolphin’s Plague Stone was backed as if unbeatable for his debut — but this was a race where it all went wrong for the colt.

Plague Stone was a little slow out of the barriers with jockey Brenton Avdulla content to sit back in fourth position with cover early.

But the Godolphin youngster refused to settle and left Avdulla with no choice but to make a mid-race move to get up outside the leader.

Plague Stone looked to hang a little on the home turn but he was immediately under pressure on straightening and was safely held by Secret Lady in the run to the line.

“He just did a bit wrong,’’ Avdulla said of Plague Stone. “He jumped okay and there was a line of three early so I just came back to get him to travel.

“But he didn’t want to switch off for me on that slow speed so I had to let him stride around them. He tried hard and will improve with the experience.’’

Secret Lady had been beaten by another boom Godolphin colt, Dynamited, at her debut earlier this month but struck back by beating Plague Stone comfortably on Saturday.

“I was pretty confident when I saw the favourite doing a lot wrong,’’ Portelli said. “She was always going to ‘fall’ back on her race fitness. The second horse might have been a bit unlucky but our filly was there ready to go on the day and got the job done.

“We have a filly who has qualified for the Magic Millions and Golden Slipper now.’’

Portelli has some serious thinking do with Secret Lady as he is reluctant to ask his filly to peak for both the Magic Millions and Golden Slipper.

“It is hard on a filly to do it both,’’ Portelli said. “But in her favour is the fact she is a really good doer and copes so well with racing.

“We will head towards the Magic Millions now, which is about five weeks away, but I won’t be able to get away with being easy on her.

“Even today I thought she looked fat in the birdcage. I galloped her Tuesday with Cosmic Cameo and she went well and usually with two-year-olds you back off them a little on the Thursday before the race.

“But I looked at her on Thursday morning and decided to give her a bit of pacework. I’m glad I did now as she would have come to the races looking like a ‘whale’ if I didn’t.’’

Portelli also praised the ride of apprentice Lee Magorrian, who the trainer entrusted with the ride knowing the apprentice could not use his 3kg claim.

“It was a great ride by the boy because when the favourite missed the start he took it up on the filly,’’ Portelli said.