Secret Spell is one of only two greyhounds to have beaten Fernando Bale in his last 27 starts as the champion – regarded by many as the best ever – has swept all before him.
In July Secret Spell brought Fernando Bale’s 16-race winning streak to an end in the semi-finals of the Maturity Classic, however Kelly Bravo believes it will take “a miracle” to upset the superstar for a second time in Friday night’s Group 1 TAB Melbourne Cup.
“Probably not,” was Bravo’s candid response when quizzed if the Maturity boilover would count for anything in the world’s richest race. “Maybe if she was drawn inside Fernando Bale and she began her best and he didn’t begin his best she’d have a chance but it’s a very big task for anything on Fernando Bale’s outside to cross him.”
“Brett had a runner in the Melbourne Cup in 1996 called Pezza’s Tiger. He had box one and started favourite but he had a kidney problem going into the race and ran fourth to Henry Hand. Brett was only 19 or 20 at the time and I don’t think he’s ever watched the replay!” – KELLY BRAVO
Bravo and husband Brett have enjoyed a phenomenal run in recent weeks, winning the Group 1 Hume Cup with Secret Spell, Group 2 Shootout with Kayda Shae and Group 2 Great Chase with Unlawful Entry.
The Bravos stepped Secret Spell up to 600m for the Hume Cup hoping to boost her confidence and the move has paid off handsomely with the classy bitch winning her last four starts, including a slick 29.34sec victory in her Melbourne Cup heat.
However, box eight has understandably dampened the Bravos’ enthusiasm ahead of Friday’s $420,000 to-the-winner finale. “If she’d drawn one, two or three she would’ve been a real chance to run a place but box eight makes it tough,” Kelly said.
“Brett doesn’t think the draw is too bad on paper but there’s so much early pace in the race. Hopefully everything on the inside will go hard left and she might get left alone by some miracle.WATCH: Secret Spell’s was way too good for her rivals in her TAB Melbourne Cup heat last week winning in 29.34sec.
“It was Brett’s idea to step her up for the Hume Cup. I was a bit sceptical but it was more for her confidence than anything else and it worked out really well. She’s feeling really good and she’ll do her best on Friday. We’ll be very happy if she can run a place. “Brett had a runner in the Melbourne Cup in 1996 called Pezza’s Tiger.
He had box one and started favourite but he had a kidney problem going into the race and ran fourth to Henry Hand. Brett was only 19 or 20 at the time and I don’t think he’s ever watched the replay!”
While the Melbourne Cup could well be Fernando Bale’s swansong, retirement also beckons for Secret Spell, with owner Paul Westerveld keen to mate the superbly bred half-sister to Fabregas with who else but…Fernando Bale.
“I know ‘Westy’ is pretty keen to breed with Secret Spell – he’s got a Fernando Bale straw for her – so I’m not sure how long she’ll keep racing,” Bravo explained.
“She’s not three until January so she’s right in her prime but I can understand from a breeder’s point of view and the Melbourne Cup would be a great way to go out. We’re happy either way. We’ll obviously lose one of our best dogs but we’ve been very lucky to have her. She’s been a ripper.”
Bravo added that Kayda Shae is recovering well from a minor ligament problem that ruled the Shootout victor out of the Melbourne Cup heats, with next month’s Hobart Thousand still on the agenda.WATCH: A full recap of Kayda Shae’s magnificent Shootout win at Sandown on November 6.