She was one of only two three-year-old’s in the field and she had never previously won past 1000m, but the Nick Olive-trained Kimberley Secrets proved too strong for her older and more experienced rivals when winning the $150,000 South East Country Championships qualifier at Moruya on Sunday.
Ridden by Jess Taylor, the pair had to contend with gate 10 in the capacity field, but they eventually found the front after doing a bit of work.
Following a mid-race breather, Kimberley Secrets ($12) led into the straight and she was game to the line, holding off race favourite and 2022 qualifier winner Testator Silens ($4.40, Nick Heywood) by half a length, while 3.8 lengths back in third was the fast-finishing Toretto (Robbie Dolan, $41).
Olive, who recently moved his team from Canberra to Queanbeyan, travelled with the Wandjina mare to Moruya on Friday, and the decision paid dividends.
“Jeez, I’m so thrilled,” Olive said.
“I can’t win a race down here and I thought, ‘I need to do something different’, and we brought her down on Friday.
“I spent a couple of days down here with her on my own, and I knew she was ready to go today, but I thought, ‘oh jeez, is she too wired’, and she had never run over 1400 (metres), and I thought she was looking for it, but when she got to the front, I didn’t know if she’d keep going but she did.”
Kimberley Secrets has started six times for four wins and two placings, and Olive believes the sky is the limit for his talented youngster.
“She is obviously a pretty classy filly on the way up,” Olive said.
“She’s nowhere near where she is going to be either; she is still quite immature mentally and that, but she will just keep improving.
“She obviously has a lot of ability and I just think getting up over that ground, I’ve just been waiting for that. I know she was brilliant over 1000m but getting up over the 1400m was excellent.”
Taylor can be credited for a good front-running ride on Kimberley Secrets, but she was quick to put the praise back onto the Nick Olive and his team.
“It’s been a super effort today and Nick and the team have done an absolutely great job with her,” Taylor said.
“She is still only a three-year-old, and it worked in her favour today having the light weight, and the tracks probably playing a little bit leader-ish, and she bounced really well, and I had to do a little bit of work to get across, but she did it quite easy and when she got there, she sort of just pricked her ears and got into a really good rhythm.
“I was quite confident straightening up; she just gave a really nice feel and gave a good kick at the top of the straight.”
Testator Silens did push the young filly, but Taylor believes she responded in the best possible way.
“I sort of thought she had run her race a hundred (metres) out but when she felt that other one (Testator Silens) come to her, she sort of really held it, and was tough to the line and it was a super win and fantastic for the owners and team,” Taylor said.
Kimberly Secrets and the Luke Clarke-trained Testator Silens will now head to the $500,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on April 1, with the latter of the two the current $6 favourite to win the series.
The Country Championships heads to Coonamble next Sunday for the Western Racing Association qualifier, ahead of the Southern Country Championships Wildcard qualifier at Goulburn on March 17 and the Northern Country Championships Wildcard qualifier at Scone on March 19.