Star Galleria returns
By Michael Guerin
Trainer Steven Reid has issued the usual warning for punters wanting to back any top horses returning from a long break off a back mark.
But the story of Star Galleria’s comeback race at Alexandra Park tonight has a few more twists and turns than usual.
The speed-freak pacer returns in tonight’s main pace off a 30m handicap over 2200m, which in itself can be a recipe for punting disaster.
Because while he is clearly the best horse in the race, rival drivers know their best chance of beating him is to go hard all the way. So they could pace 2:43 or quicker off the front and leave him needing to go faster than almost any pacer has at Alexandra Park, coming wide to win.
That sounds difficult when race hardened, seemingly impossible when fresh.
But here is the catch. Star Galleria did exactly that is this race last year, coming from a 20m backmark to beat stronger opposition in 2:39.7, which wiped a remarkable 3.1 seconds off the national record.
So the best version of Star Galleria can clearly still win tonight. But here is where things get murky.
Three weeks ago Reid thought that level of return was on the cards again after Star Galleria flew in a lightning quick workout at Pukekohe.
But an examination soon after suggested potential problem tissue on his epiglottis, on which he underwent an entrapment operation last season.
“Initially we thought we had a problem there again but after a treatment of antibiotics he has scoped 100 per cent clear but it cost us nine days work,” explains Reid.
“After that I gave him a decent workout last Saturday and again on Wednesday and he felt flat in the first one but far better in the second one.
“So I am thinking he is going into this needing a run, maybe two, because he is a year older and because he missed those nine days work.” Reid will tell catch driver Zachary Butcher to cut as many corners as he can with Star Galleria before looking for a winning run over the last lap if the six-year-old feels like he is travelling well enough.
“But with all that in mind it could depend on his rivals and and how he feels, so I’d say to punters if he is $3.8 or something like that take the risk, but we know he won’t get to that,” says Reid.
Making life even more difficult for Star Galleria is the fact key rivals like The Devils Own, Check In and even a front marker like Bettorstartdreaming are all the sort of pacers who like to run along so are capable of exploiting any weakness in Star Galleria’s armoury.
While Butcher will have his work cut out finding the right balance with Star Galleria, he will also be on another of the more exciting pacers racing tonight in untapped three-year-old Line Up (race five).
He looked a Sires’ Stakes horse winning fresh-up last Friday but steps well up in grade and distance tonight.
Still, if he is going to be a factor in the Sires’ Stakes series which culminates at Addington in November the younger brother to Partyon will want to be winning tonight.