Tough South African quarantine restrictions and patient planning by Tony Millard mean it will be more than 18 months since Secret Command’s last start when he finally makes his local debut, but the grey flash proved it could be worth the wait with an eye catching last to first burst in a trial at Sha Tin on Friday.
Secret Command was victorious in his one and only start up the Kenilworth straight in late April, 2013 – and as the form around that dominant win has continued to stack up, the four-year-old missed an entire season as he bided his time waiting for quarantine clearance in Mauritius.
On debut Secret Command beat De Kock – not the trainer named Mike, but a Brett Crawford-trained colt who was subsequently victorious at Group Two level over a mile, and has been the winner of three from seven overall, including a success over 1000m less than three weeks ago.
Secret Command showed brilliance from the gate to lead in Cape Town, and then toughness to out stay De Kock to prevail by a length and three quarters, with more than six lengths to the third horse in a 17 runner field.
By proven speed sire Captain Al, Secret Command boasts some impressive bloodlines; he is out of a sprinter that won multiple Group races and has a younger full-sister, All Is Secret, who has won three Group Ones.
Now that he is with Millard, the trainer is in no rush to get the four-year-old to the races. He arrived in February and after being gelded in May, trialled quietly in June. Secret Command has now steadily improved in each of his trials since; he was felt for but responded well when second at the pre-season carnival and was impressive in Friday’s swooping effort.
Ed note– Secret Command was trained by Paddy Kruyer and raced in the silks of Mr CW Hui. He was bred by the BBP Syndicate and is out of the prolific winner producing Goldkeeper mare, Secret Of Victoria. He was purchased by Mr Hui for R 1 250 000 at the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sale in 2012.