Second place may be better than nothing but former Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen felt deflated watching his part-owned horse Te Akau Shark marginally beaten by Kolding in the Group One Epsom Handicap.
The recently retired NRL captain was confident he had the win at Royal Randwick on Saturday, cheering alongside the eight other owners of the New Zealand gelding.
But the extra weight and a wider barrier draw proved too much for Te Akau Shark who also ran second in his first Australian start in the Tramway Stakes in September.
“Yeah I was pretty confident. I backed him for the win and everyone was talking about him winning but it’s not the way he ran,” Gallen told AAP.
“It’s a little bit deflating to be honest.
“Second is better than nothing.”
Kolding ran with four kilograms less than Te Akau Shark and took home the lion’s share of the $1 million prize money for trainer Chris Waller who had a dream run winning all three Group One races at Randwick plus the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
Gallen hopes Te Akau Shark gets to the Cox Plate in Melbourne and thinks the extra distance could suit the five-year old, given his strong run home towards the finish.
“He only got a bob and a head out the back end of it so hopefully he’s done enough to get in the Cox Plate that would be ideal,” he said.
It could be the last chance for Te Akau Shark to run in Australia before he heads back home to New Zealand.
Earlier in the week the former Sharks player revealed his horse could have ended up with a different name if the Cronulla Sharks had not won the grand final in 2016 when the horse was bought.
“It could have been Te Akau Storm but thankfully we won the grand final,” Gallen said.