By Garrick Knight
That was the over-riding sentiment from Steven Reid after Star Galleria’s return to the winners’ circle at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
The classy pacer upset hot favourite Belle Of Montana with a sharp front-running performance, confirming to Reid and driver Todd Mitchell that they still had a Group 1 level horse.
Not that Reid wasn’t happy with his recent racing but it was Star Galleria’s first win in the best part of 12 months.
“His last two runs were good, I thought.
“The Auckland Cup effort was phenomenal; five-wide around the bend and came home in 54.2.
“That sort of showed me he had bounced back.
“Then in the Cambridge Mile, well Toddy said it probably wasn’t his best drive.
“He was following Chase Auckland in to the race then tried to cut down on the inside but ran in to a wall of horses.
“So, he spent the whole length of the straight angling across them.”
Where to next is the big question for Reid and the horse’s owners because there are two possibilities.
He is booked on a plane to Sydney on Monday, where the plan was for him to join Luke McCarthy for a campaign through until the Len Smith Mile.
“Then come home because I’d like to have another crack at the New Zealand Cup with him.”
But there has been some strong American interest in the horse, too, and the ownership group will need to make a decision in the next 48 hours.
“If it was up to me, he’d go the Aussie route, but I’m not the only owner.”
The New Zealand Cup was on the agenda for this season but had to be scraped after a frustrating run of minor issues that caused setbacks in his preparation.
“After his first trial back, where he ran super, I got him scoped to make sure last year’s throat operation was a success.
“What they found was a nasty throat infection which led to him having seven days off.
“No sooner had I got him back then in the paddock one morning he had a big leg.
“I got the vet in and he said he thought we may have jacked up the suspensory, but would have to wait for the selling to go down to be sure.
“It turned out he had just banged it, but that was another five or six days’ setback.
“Then, as I got him back going again, he walked in one day tippy-toeing in behind and a massive foot abscess had to be cut out.
“So, he missed another nine days with that which meant everything probably accumulated to about three weeks off at the worst possible time.”
Belle Of Montana fought on well for second while Solid Gold, in his first run for Tony Herlihy, held on for third.
Later in the night, Reid was surprised when juvenile filly Shes No Lady ran a cracking second for owners, Woodlands Stud.
“There was a little bit of shock there, I can’t believe she’s gone that good.
“She’d sort of shown at home that a 2.03 run would pull her up but I guess she’s just one of those horses that gets better come race night.
“We were going to tip her out but I think I’ll keep going with her now.”
That race was won super impressively by Passion and Power for trainer John Dunn, who also won earlier in the card with Pretty Majestic and twice at Blenheim in the afternoon with Madam Sass and Stars Tonight.