Major factors on his side
By Michael Guerin
Taking on the hottest field of the night from the outside draw over a mobile mile isn’t usually the easiest path to a confidence-boosting win at Alexandra Park.
But Star Galleria has three major factors on his side as he attempts to do just that in race two tonight.
While undoubtedly one of the fastest pacers in the country, Star Galleria’s season has been tracking downward since a fresh-up win in September and he was eventually sent for an operation on an entrapped epiglottis straight after the New Zealand Cup.
He returned off a harsh mark in the Franklin Cup a Alexandra Park last Friday night so trainer Steven Reid took the reins and cut corners on his way to finishing sixth but tonight he is racing to win before the Auckland Cup on December 31.
“I’d love him to get a confidence-boosting win,” said Reid.
“He hasn’t had an easy season but he felt a lot better last Friday and had I pulled the right rein he might have finished third.
“But having missed some racing and with there being 17 days between last week and the Auckland Cup he needs another race so I am thrilled this one got off the ground.” The outside of the front line can be a shocker for horses and punters alike in mobile miles at Alexandra Park with it short run to the first bend but Star Galleria has plenty in his favour.
Not only he is rated 28 points above his rivals but his sprint record is phenomenal, with six wins and two placings in eight starts while in another bonus regular reinsman Tony Herlihy jumps back on.
If Herlihy got serious early the five-year-old would probably have the speed to blast past his rivals and give punters a comfortable watch but with a few stayers in the race he can probably afford to be more patient as the speed should be on.
If the best version of Star Galleria turns up he should win, with only Sicario looking a serious danger on their overall career form. After all, less than 11 months ago Star Galleria beat Sicario’s superstar stablemate Heaven Rocks in the Flying Mile at Cambridge.
Some of the small fields tonight could bring others facing wide draws into play, especially as most of the races have no, or very small, second lines, meaning horses drawn wide don’t have to go too far back.
Another with a clear class advantage on her rivals but a wide draw is former Jewels-winning trotter Missandei in race seven.
Half of her eight career wins have come from behind the mobile and while she galloped early in the Lyell Creek Stakes last Friday she drops a long way in class tonight and if she behaves might be too quick.