Herlihy has two Group One winning drives
by Michael Guerin
Tony Herlihy is heading to Auckland Trotting Cup night with two serious group-one winning drives but if he needs a pre-race reality check he will only need to look left.
Because there outside him in both the Auckland Cup and National Trot lie the enormity of the tasks in front of Star Galleria and Temporale.
The pair come into their respective group one races on Monday’s twilight card in improved form after messy spring campaigns.
Star Galleria (Auckland Cup) started the season on a high but lost form and was later diagnosed with an entrapped epiglottis, which has been operated on and the five-year-old is bouncing back to sharp form.
He stormed home into second at Alexandra Park last start and the best version of him can be a player in the Auckland Cup, even if 3200m may not be his most natural distance.
But while he has drawn ideally at barrier three, if Herlihy turns his head left in the seconds before the start he will see four members of the All Stars army drawn directly outside him, including dominant favourites Dream About Me (barrier five) and Turn It Up (six).
“I was really happy with him (Star Galleria) last start and I think he can get some of it but I think everybody knows how tough Mark’s (Purdon) horses will be.
“They are racing so well and are very hard to beat in these big races so while we have a chance it is hard to be confident.”
That same applies but probably without quite as much trepidation for Herlihy’s stable star Temporale as he defends his title in the $100,000 National Trot.
He struggled with minor issues in the spring and Herlihy had to take the cautious approach when working the big trotter but he looked back to something like his best winning the Flying Mile at Cambridge on Christmas Eve.
“He felt good there and was able to get handy while a couple of others galloped so it worked out well,” said Herlihy.
“He feels back to top form now and he is coming into this well.”
Temporale has the gate speed to go forward from barrier four and could even lead but Herlihy’s confidence is tempered by the recent form of Marcoola, who looks certain to be launched by driver Clint Ford at some stage.
“He really is racing well, like a top horse,” says Herlihy of Marcoola.
“And he seems to be very free-running when it gets going at the moment so he should make it a staying test.”
So as stunning as Marcoola has been in his last two wins it is hard to envisage any of his rivals getting in his way if he gets a head of steam up so if he races up to his Dominion and Lyell Creek winning form his widish draw of barrier seven might prove irrelevant.