SECRET Spell stunned racegoers last Saturday night in a semi-final of the Group 1 Maturity Classic at The Meadows, ending the 16-race winning streak of champion sprinter Fernando Bale with a tenacious all-the-way display.
Now, her Lovely Banks trainer Kelly Bravo is hoping that she can do it again in this week’s final against a star-studded field which has a combined prize money total of over $1.3 million.
Secret Spell was faultless at box rise last week, striding straight to the early lead from box three, outpacing Fernando Bale in the run to the first turn. After bumping through the catching pen, the son of Kelsos Fusileer and Chloe Allen got off stride and lost momentum, with Secret Spell striding clear to score a two length victory in 30.05.
“To be honest we would have just been happy to run second to him and to see her get through to the final,” Bravo told Australian Racing Greyhound.
Secret Spell, a beautifully bred daughter of Batrim Bale and Wicked Witch, has always shown the makings of a top class racer, with 17 wins from 30 starts including a slick 29.77 personal best over the track and distance.
“She has always been a very good bitch, but Fernando Bale is just in a league of his own,” Bravo said.
“She won the Vic Breeders and then she went on to win the Cranbourne Puppy Classic a length outside of the track record.
“She had a couple of little injuries with her monkey muscle and every time we tried to bring her back she was drawing awkwardly and not getting the chance to get into the race.
“But now she is pulling up well and she is racing with a lot of confidence at the moment.”
Secret Spell, $14 with Bet365, will have to contend with box six in the $100,000-to-the-winner feature on Saturday night, with Fernando Bale, $1.40, drawn favourably in box two, a draw from which he has won three of four starts.
Also in contention is Dyna Double One (box five), $3.65 with Bet365, which has been the standout performer of the series thus far, clocking 29.56 and 29.59 in his heat and semi-final respectively.
Bravo says her chaser will need a lot of luck from the six alley.
“Ideally I would have liked to see her drawn closer to the fence, but she is just going to have to deal with it,” Bravo quipped.
“It all comes down to how she begins. While she has been very consistent out of the box lately, she is going to have to be again on Saturday.
“I am hoping she can begin well and make her way down to the fence because she is probably going to have to compact the field on her inside so that she can get a bit of a break on them.
“I am worried about Dyna Double One on her inside, he is racing superbly and if it wasn’t for Fernando he would probably be the talk of Australia.
“But if Fernando begins the way which we all know he can then he won’t give anything else a chance.”
If Fernando Bale can take out the Maturity Classic, the white and dark brindle speedster will take his career earnings to over $790,000, while it would also be his seventh Group title – his fifth at the highest level.
Trained by Andrea Dailly, the 30 kilogram powerhouse has taken out some of the best races in the country so far in 2015. On his rap sheet is the National Derby, Golden Easter Egg, Peter Mosman Classic and the Harrison-Dawson.
Bravo says that she is happy to have made the final and is now just hoping for some luck in running.
“She is going to have to be up near the front to be any chance,” Bravo said.
“I think where she has drawn puts her up against it a little bit, but then again she did win the Cranbourne Puppy Classic from box six and we hadn’t really given her a chance that night either.
“It would be a big thrill to win and it would be nice for Paul and Michelle Westerveld – they breed plenty of quality dogs so it would be good to see them rewarded by taking out a Group race, but it is just nice to have made the final.”
The Group 1 Maturity Classic is race eight at The Meadows and is set to jump at 9:43pm.