secret land "she's peaked at the right time"

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    11 April 2003 - Hawkes nominates Secret Land as Slipper danger
    By Tony White

    J ohn Hawkes has named arch-rival Gai Waterhouse's crack filly Secret Land as the biggest danger to one of his record seven runners winning tomorrow's $3 million AAMI Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill.

    John Hawkes
    Photo by Bronwen Healy
    Between them Hawkes and Waterhouse will saddle up an incredible 11 of the 16 starters in the frenzied 70-second dash for the cash.

    Punters are expected to wager upwards of $9 million on the world's richest race for two-year-olds.

    Hawkes and Waterhouse have each won a Golden Slipper - Hawkes with Guineas in 1997 and Waterhouse with Ha Ha in 2001.

    "They're all hard but Secret Land is the hardest to beat," Hawkes, head trainer for Australia's biggest thoroughbred owners Jack and Bob Ingham, said.

    "Mine are all fine. As good as I can get them.

    "Who gets the best run will probably decide the race."

    Asked if having a numerical majority aided his chances, Hawkes fired back: "Having the numbers doesn't mean you win.

    "Time will tell."

    The Warwick Farm-based trainer was loath to split his team made up of Kusi, Hammerbeam, Niello, Legally Bay, Dorky, Syrinx and Frasassas.

    "All I hope is they all get their chance. They're ready," Hawkes said.

    Stable insiders regard Lonhro's little brother Niello as their best juvenile.

    The Darren Beadman mount currently holds favouritism on TAB Ltd's fixed odds at $4.50 ahead of Secret Land at $5.50.

    Beadman won his first Golden Slipper as an apprentice aboard Inspired in 1984 and followed up with Guineas 13 years later.

    Secret Land's rider Chris Munce won aboard Prowl for Clarry Conners in 1998.

    Munce spent today watching his son Corey compete at the Royal Easter Show.

    "He rode in the boy's rider class," said the proud dad.

    "He went good and finished third.

    "No doubt I'll go better tomorrow," he added confidently.

    Munce plumped for Secret Land after her impressive win in the Illawarra Classic at Kembla Grange on April 2, when the filly ran the fastest two-year-old 1200m time this year of 1:8.95.

    "She's the best of Gai's fillies," Munce said.

    "She's peaked at the right time.

    "Sure she's been up for a while, but she hasn't really been pressured until the last month.

    "She has been a filly that in her trials and races has always shown a tremendous turn of foot. Her acceleration in winning at Kembla was terrific.

    "I hope she can use that tomorrow."

    Munce said the key to winning was "getting a trouble-free run".

    "There's not much between them. The horse that gets the best run will just about win," he said.

    "I'm going into the race confident. There's no point looking at negatives, you've just got to be positive."

    Leading Sydney bookmaker Colin Tidy said he expected "mammoth turnover" on the Golden Slipper and throughout the day.

    "The openness of the Slipper and the fact there is so much value for punters will encourage turnover," he said.

    "I'm tipping it will be the biggest betting affair in recent years."

    Last year punters wagered $7.53 million with bookmakers on Golden Slipper Day.

    Tidy's market assessor Mark Morrissey added credence to Tidy's feelings when he said "Pre-post betting up to now has been the best I've seen in 10 years."

    On the tote punters last year wagered $38 million on Slipper Day with $16 million bet on Rosehill and $6 million on the Golden Slipper alone.

    TAB officials expect those figures to be topped tomorrow.

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