SIX months ago Ebenezer trainer John Tapp decided to give his then two-year-old runner Secluded Beach some time away from the racetrack to mature.
That decision was validated with a win in Wednesday night’s BHRC Awards Night 23 Sept Three Year Old Pace (1,730 metres), the first start for Secluded Beach since March.
Secluded Beach ($2.80 favourite) ran home strongly with a final quarter of 28.4 seconds to see off Lockton Luck ($7.60) by 2.7m.
Headmaster ($5.20) was third a further 5.8m adrift in third.
The winning mile rate was 2:01.9.
Prior to his breakthrough victory on Wednesday Secluded Beach had finished last and second last from his first two starts, where he never looked settled in the running.
Tapp said his runner showed what he was capable of with his flying finish at Bathurst Paceway.
“As a two-year-old he was immature, green and rather hot-headed. He had no idea of how to rate himself. Everything was in a hurry,” he said.
“Rather than persevere and risk making him worse I decided to spell him. I gave him three months off and we've brought him up very, very slowly this time. He’s still a bit hot headed but through a couple of gear changes tonight is the most relaxed I’ve seen him in a race.”
At the green light it didn’t take long for the field to become strung out.
Trunkey Jack and Miss Aeyla both broke while out in front Headmaster took up the running.
Ten Crystals was urged forward to the death seat as the field made their way past the winning post for the first time while driver Jim Douglas didn’t miss the opportunity to take Secluded Beach to the one out, one back position.
Despite rather dawdling middle quarters of 32.5 and 31.4 Headmaster remained unchallenged for the lead until the turn for home.
Lockton Luck was the first to make a move from the rear of the field and trailed Secluded Beach, who also began his three-wide move with just over 300m to run.
The pair passed Headmaster inside the 200m and it became a duel to the line.
Lockton Luck finished strongly but had too much work to do and not enough track left to take down Secluded Beach.
Tapp said his runner was well positioned to make his move.
“When he got to the front he was still lost for a few strides. He wasn't sure where he was. He wasn’t sure if he was at Bathurst or Bombala,” he said.
“Had he been further back I would have been worried [with the slow pace]. Because he was so close, at one out, one back, that makes a huge difference.”
Tapp said there’s still plenty of learning to be done by the Somebeachsomewhere x Our Thelma gelding in the months ahead.
“I’m sure there’s a fair bit of improvement to come," he said.
“He’s not going to be a superstar but he’s a horse that’s slowly and surely coming into his own.”