IMA Secret burst down the centre of the track to win a second successive John “Mouse” Sinclair Benchmark 55 Handicap (1600m) yesterday in what was almost a carbon copy of last year’s win in the inaugural running of a race to commemorate the memory of one of the legends of Hunter and North West Racing Association history.
The only difference was the Gunnedah gelding won last year’s “Mouse Race” coming from last along the rails with stable apprentice Sue Bigg on board.
Yesterday he was zooming home out in the middle of the track for Warwick Farm-based jockey Luke Dittman.
22-year-old Dittman flashed home to catch Tamworth apprentice Adam Sewell and the Sue Grills-trained Border Flight just when they looked like winning the tribute race.
Dittman said Ima Secret felt a little flat midrace but “picked right up” when he asked for an effort.
“I’ve had three rides for Gavin now and had two wins on him (Ima Secret),” Dittman, who has battled back from a long layoff because of rising weight, said.
“He rode him a treat,” trainer Gavin Groth said.
“I thought he (Ima Secret) could have been short of a run,” he said of a gelding who had disappointed resuming from a spell at Dubbo recently.
“But that run brought him along good.
“We’d set him for this race again too.
“It’s great when it all works out for everyone – good work from everyone in the stable.
“But it’s also great to this race again.
“I didn’t know John but knew of him.
“I only started training 10 years ago.”
Sinclair retired as secretary of the Quirindi Jockey Club in 2002. He was made a life member the same year after 28 years (1974 to 2002) as service as club secretary.
His many friends, such as former club president John Murray, were on deck again yesterday and marvelled at the many fine and funny memories of a secretary who had “so many tricks”.
“He was a marvel,” Murray said.
“He used to have Cyril Watson (the then HNWRA chief steward) pulling his hair out.”
For Groth, the chance to win such a prestigious race was another delight.
“Ima Secret loves it here, loves coming down the hill.”
He’s also hoping to win his first Wean Picnic Cup on Saturday.