Second-year trainer Daniel Meagher captured his first feature success with outsider Secret Win (Haradasun) landing a boilover win in the S$150,000 Gr.3 El Dorado Classic (2200m) on Sunday.
Meagher, one of the long-time assistants to his father John at Kranji with brother Chris, has known the giddy heights of such Group acclaim with the likes of Kim Angel, Lim’s Objective and Mayo’s Music in the past, but was for the first time basking in the limelight on his own.
The moment was even more surreal for the young Australian, who has always considered Singapore as his second home, given Secret Win only opened his account at his last start – his 11th start - seven days ago in moderate Class 4 company and was also on the quick back-up.
But that is how self-belief, or in Meagher’s case, a good dose of fair-dinkum Australian can-do spirit, can turn dreams into reality in horse racing.
Bringing up the rear in the capacity 16-horse field, the Haradasun five-year-old, who was initially prepped by Curraghmore Stud for the Ready To Run sale before being sold privately, was probably given scant attention by most for most of the gruelling 2200m journey, except maybe his connections, a handful of rare backers and exotic bet lovers lured by his juicy $197 dividend.
The 16 runners were well spread across the track upon cornering, but it was Perfect P who had ‘winner’ written all over when he hit the front at the 300m.
Secret Win, who had the luxury load of only 51.5kgs on his back, was putting on wings on every foot as he came with a scorching run on the complete outside. Chairman, who began from the outermost alley, fought back like a bulldog but had to in the end bow to Secret Win’s superior finish.
Secret Win scored with half-a-length to spare from Chairman with in-and-out performer Blue Swede (John Powell) a meritorious third another head away. The winning time was 2min 15.09secs for the 2200m on the Long Course.
“It’s fantastic I’ve won my first Group win at only my second year of training here, and I hope I’m on track to emulating what my father John has achieved here, and do him, mum, (brothers) Chris and Paul proud,” said Meagher as he takes the first step towards the hard act which is his father’s 29 Group wins at Kranji, including seven at Group One level.
“To do it with a horse I never expected to win is an even greater feeling. We thought he was more of a Gold Cup horse and we have now overachieved with him.
“He will definitely go to the Gold Cup now. I have to thank the owner (Chua Poh Seng) as he buys real quality horses and he has become a very good friend of mine. I’m sure he will get a lot more success.
“I also take my hat off to Benny. He said from Day 1 this horse was a Derby horse, and at the time I kind of half-agreed with him, but he’s been proven right today.
“He always needed 2200m as he’s a dead-set stayer. After he won last Sunday, he pulled up so good that I had to run him in the El Dorado and I’m so rapt it’s paid off.”
Known as Houghton when he raced in New Zealand where he recorded one win over 1600m at Te Teko last year in June, Secret Win had only around S$73,000 in the bank before his El Dorado triumph, but has now seen that amount more than double to around S$150,000. -STC