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Maturity Classic Preview: Bravo Says Beating Fernando “Bittersweet”

A sporting Kelly Bravo says it was a “bittersweet” feeling to bring Fernando Bale’s record-equalling winning streak to an end in the semi-finals of the Group 1 Hudson Pacific Maturity Classic last weekend.

But that’s certainly not to say Bravo wouldn’t love to repeat the dose when her classy bitch Secret Spell once again clashes with Fernando Bale in Saturday night’s $100,000 to-the-winner Maturity finale.

Fernando Bale went into the Maturity semis enjoying a sensational 16-race unbeaten run, needing just one more victory to break Miss Elly Mint’s record of consecutive TAB track victories.

However Kelly Bravo and Secret Spell crashed the party, handing Andrea Dailly’s superstar his first defeat in almost five months.

“It’s funny because there’s probably a lot of people that have been waiting for Fernando Bale to get beaten but we would’ve been happy to run second,” Bravo offered.

“At the end of the day second would have got Secret Spell through to the final and from a greyhound industry point of view it would’ve been nice to see Fernando Bale break the record because he’s been brilliant for the sport.

“Secret Spell is a fantastic little bitch but Fernando Bale is a champion and getting beaten last week doesn’t take anything away from him at all.”

While Secret Spell boasts an imposing seven from nine record over 525m at The Meadows – and 17 from 30 overall – Bravo concedes the regally bred half-sister to 2012 National Sprint hero Fabregas faces a daunting task in the Maturity decider, with the box draw favouring Fernando Bale.

And the TAB’s Fixed Odds market agrees, with Fernando Bale installed as $1.60 favourite after drawing box two while Secret Spell is a $14 outsider from an awkward draw in six.

“It would’ve been nice to draw where Fernando Bale is,” Bravo said.

“It’s a big ask but she’s been beginning very consistently so hopefully she can get out like she has been and cross them and there might be some chaos behind her.

“Group 1 races are hard to get into and then they’re very hard to win and with Fernando Bale and Dyna Double One in the race Secret Spell will probably slip under the radar. There’s not really any pressure on us. It’s one of those races where we’re happy to make it and we’re hoping for a lot of luck.

“It’s hard to see Fernando Bale getting held up this week from box two but I think Dyna Double One (box 5) is a big chance and he probably would’ve been the one to beat if he’d drawn well. He’s not as brilliant early as Fernando Bale or Secret Spell but he’s racing so fast and consistently.”

Bravo and husband Brett are no strangers to Group 1 glory with Kilty Lad winning both the Silver Chief Classic and Adelaide Cup in 2011, while Alpe D’Huez, won the Hume Cup in 2013, and Kelly rates Secret Spell up with the best they’ve trained.

“It’s hard to compare Secret Spell with Kilty Lad – he won his Group races early on and made a lot of Group finals – but she would definitely be up there with the better dogs we’ve had and she would have to be the best bitch we’ve trained,” Bravo said.

The Meadows Formguide: Click Here


Secret Spell (3) defeats Fernando Bale (6) in a semi-final of the Maturity Classic last Saturday night.

About Gerard Guthrie - Chief Journalist The Greyhound Recorder Chief Journalist with The Greyhound Recorder newspaper since 2001, member Topgun selection panel, Dapto Megastar selection panel and Australian and NSW Greyhound of the Year judging panels, compere Dapto Puppy Auction, previously contributed to Sky Racing's The Catching Pen, Sky Sports Radio's Going Greyhounds and website. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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