Reid quietly confident
By Michael Guerin
Steven Reid knows what he is supposed to say ahead of Star Galleria’s comeback at Alexandra Park tonight.
He just can’t bring himself to say it.
After 10 days embroiled in a scandal, harness racing gets down to the business of good horses racing again toinight, with big names in both gaits on the track at Addington and Alexandra Park.
For all the talent on show Star Galleria may be the most exciting, a pacer who has emerged as a real player in the best races this season as the open class crop reconfigures after some big-name losses.
He has the speed of a very serious horse and has sharpened up for tonight’s 2200m main pace with wins in both his recent workouts.
But he still faces a 20m handicap in a small field, often a tricky assignment for horses returning in this grade when their connections don’t want them stressed fresh up.
Reid, a cunning form tactician, knows that. But he also knows how good Star Galleria is and might be.
“I know it can be difficult to win fresh up in a race like this but the way he is going I think he can pull it off,” says Reid.
“His workout last Saturday was brilliant and he has definitey improved.
“So while anything can happen, especially fresh up, I think he will still win.”
It is hard to see Star Galleria being any worse than three back on the outer starting the last 800m and unless his rivals get away with pedestrian sectionals and then sprint a 55 second last 800m, he should be able to get over the top of them.
But with class opponents like Mach Shard and No Doctor Needed, punters will want $2-$2.20 to make it worth their while as more top horses lose than win off backmarks at Alexandra Park.
That almost certainly sums up the fate of trotting warrior Speeding Spur earlier in the night where he faces a 50m handicap in race three, a race his trainer John Dickie doesn’t really want to start in.
“It isn’t the ideal comeback race but he needs racing to get hard fit now he is an older horse,” says Dickie.
“But I will be going to the stewards before the race to tell them we don’t intend taking off in the middle stages and making it a staying test because he is not ready for that.”
The open classers are also back in both gaits at Addington and after two dominant wins so far this season Thefixer will be expected to win the main pace.
The Ordeal Trotting Cup looks a far more complex puzzle with plenty of big names returning while Harness Jewels winner Habibi Inta steps into open class without as much as a workout.
“He only had a month off after the Jewels (June) so he is ready to go and working well,” says trainer Paul Nairn.
“Whereas my other one, Ronald J, hasn’t been working quite as well yet so probably has the right draw to be driven with a sit.”