Classic-placed Secret Gesture (5m Galileo-Shastye, by Danehill) made an excellent seasonal comeback on York on Thursday when winning the G2 Middleton Stakes in great style.
The 2013 Oaks runner-up was saddled by Ralph Beckett to win the extended 10-furlong contest by a length and a half under Andrea Atzeni, who felt the Galileo mare was better than ever.
“She’s very straightforward. She was a bit fresh early on but I managed to get a breather into her on the bend and she quickened again. She loves the ground, she’s very honest and the tailwind was a help in the straight,” Atzeni told PA Sport. “She won well there and she’s definitely going the right way. She’s obviously improving with age.”
Beckett understandably now plans to step the Newsells Stud-bred five-year-old up to Group 1 company.
“She is extremely consistent,” said the trainer. “We know she likes it here, but it was a late decision to run. She came back looking very big and well from her summer break. It will be the G1 Pretty Polly at the Curragh (June 28) now, I would think. A month ago I was thinking we would have to start her off there. She’s not ground dependent.”
Owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Qatar Racing was full of praise for the mare’s connections. He added: “She’s been very consistent and Ralph has done a magnificent job. We sat down at the end of last year and decided to give her another year and she has repaid us today. Andrea came with a plan and executed it exactly as he wanted to. He’s a genius when it comes to big races like this.”