Grahame Begg will have two bites of the cherry when he heads to his former home track of Randwick to chase his first Sydney Group 1 win in more than a decade.
Begg spent almost 25 years training out of the premier course and had remarkable success with the likes of All Silent, Our Egyptian Raine, Telesto and Monopolize.
But in 2014, he decided to close his Randwick stable and take some time away from the sport, eventually establishing a new base in Victoria 18 months later.
His last Sydney major was with Secret Admirer in the 2011 Epsom Handicap and on Saturday at Randwick, he will look to turn back the clock with Passive Aggressive in the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) and Maharba in the Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
“It’s great to be back and to have horses of the level that you’d expect would be competitive on such a big day,” Begg said.
Passive Aggressive heads to the T J Smith in near-faultless form.
She has won five or her six starts, proving herself in the clockwise direction with a narrow but determined win over Eduardo in the Challenge Stakes (1000m), relegating Everest winner Giga Kick to third.
Saturday’s assignment is another level again, but Begg says Passive Aggressive has continued to thrive and has the tactical speed to give herself every opportunity against Australia’s best sprinters.
“It’s a great race. It’s the best we’ve got on offer in this country so we’re under no illusions,” Begg said.
“I know it was only a small field in the Challenge that she won, and she only just got there, but she was first-up for six months so she’s taken good improvement from that.
“If she can measure up in this grade, it opens up a lot of things going forward.”
Maharba has also been in outstanding form, making a winning debut for the stable in the Listed Talindert Stakes (1100m) in Melbourne before coming to Sydney and finishing a luckless second in the Pago Pago Stakes (1200m).
Begg initially walked away from that race disappointed but quickly changed his attitude when the winner, Shinzo, triumphed in the Golden Slipper seven days later.
While the trainer has some reservations about Maharba running a strong 1400m, he is taking heart from the fact the juvenile’s sire Pride Of Dubai won the corresponding race in 2015.
“He’s a half-brother to Unencumbered and it’s a very fast family, but you’ve got to try them and you’ll know going forward whether he can run 1400,” he said.
“He will be better suited at Randwick. He’s just drawn a touch awkward (barrier 10), I would have liked to have drawn a bit better but it is what it is and he’s in good shape.”
The lightly raced Magic Time rounds out Begg’s Sydney team in the PJ Bell Stakes (1200m) and he expects a bold run from the filly who he describes as “well above average”.
– RAS NewsWire