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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.”   Michael Guerin

Steven Reid is happy being harness racing’s David, able to occasionally slay Goliath. And Reid almost did that twice at the Jewels on Saturday, winning one of the $150,000 pacing divisions with Utmost Delight and only field position costing him doing it again when Star Galleria went down narrowly to Eamon Maguire. Reid left Cambridge a happy man, knowing his Jewels double had only been denied by the most powerful stable New Zealand has ever seen, the Goliaths of the All Stars. “How could I not be happy?” said Reid. “The mare went super to win her race while I think reverse the runs and Star Galleria could have beat Eamon Maguire. “So for a guy with a small team we had a great day and Utmost Delight’s win might have been my first group one since Gold Ace so I’m pretty stoked.” Reid and rival Cran Dalgety with Pat’s Delight in the three-year-old race were the only pacing trainers able to slow the All Stars, who won six races, most of them by big margins. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen were the deserved stars of the show after a tough, interrupted week, their mammoth harness racing machine honed down to peak performance. But while Reid has been at least remotely close to where the All Stars are, having won a premiership beating Purdon 20 years ago, he says he is happy living in the giant’s shadow. “Things have changed a lot for me since those days and I don’t have the owners for a big team any more and wouldn’t want to train one anyway. “I find it less stressful and my attention to detail is better this way and I can train the horses I want. “And having these two horses means we can have a real presence at the major carnivals next season.” Utmost Delight is the 13th foal of the fantastically flawed mare Victor Supreme. She used to be talented yet weak but the Bettors Delight influence has seen her strengthen with every campaign. “She has turned into a lovely mare and while we will probably stick mainly to mares races next season she might be good enough to be a Cup horse. “Star Galleria will almost certainly bypass Australia over the winter and be set for the New Zealand Cup.” The two Delights -- Utmost and Pat’s -- were rare points of difference as the All Stars were at their ruthless best in the majority of Saturday’s races. Shez All Rock, on loan to them before heading back to Australia, finally broke the Aussie invite duck with a whirlwind performance in the three-year-old Diamond and she might be one of the most talented fillies seen in this part of the world. But her juvenile stablemate Princess Tiffany was just as crushing in the opening race, coming from last to blow her rivals away. Driver Tim Williams used Another Masterpiece’s draw to win the juvenile male pace while Eamon Maguire was fast enough to hold Star Galleria at bay as Rasmussen won a driving game of cat and mouse. Now the super stable will need to sit down in the coming week and decided which horses press on to Victoria and the Breeders Crown riches and who heads to the paddock as they call time on another premiership season during which they have won a record $4.4million domestically and plenty of Lazarus loot in Australia. What they have achieved this season, even with plenty of lows among the highs, has been remarkable in not just its brilliance but its sustainability. But as Reid, Dalgety and Paul Nairn showed on Saturday, even giants are beatable. By Michael Guerin

Bettor's Delight mare Utmost Delight has won a brutal Jewels race, finally claiming a narrow victory in stirring home stretch battle with harness racing rival Delishka. Utmost Delight had to be the best horse to win after sitting three wide and parked for most of the race while Mark Purdon took the bull by the horns and launched to the front early on All Stars runner Partyon. In the straight Utmost Delight dug deepest and beat Deliska by a half a length with a further length back to Seaswift Joy in third. Driver Ricky May gave credit to trainer Steven Reid after the race. "I have only driven her five times and she has never been out of the first two for me, so Steven always has her pretty spot on,"he said. Steven Reid said it was a great week for him. "All I can say is it has been a great week. "I had my doubts today that she could win but the way she worked during the week I thought she only needs an ounce of luck and she had no luck but still won. "I am just rapt. I am really rapt for the owners and everyone involved in the horse," he said. Utmost Delight paced the mile in 1-52.7  Harnesslink Media   Listen to owner Charlie Roberts son in law Paul Kenny Utmost Delight WOODLANDS STUD 4YO DIAMOND (MOBILE PACE) (Gr1), $150,000, 4YO MARES, 1609m   For 4-year-old pacing mares. Video  Weather: Overcast     Track: Fast      Race History     Plc Bk Horse Barrier Hcap Stakes Fav Time Margin Driver Trainer 1 13 Utmost Delight 13 fr 75,000.00 1/2 1-52.7   R T May S J Reid 2 5 Delishka 5 fr 22,500.00 3/3 1-52.8 0.50 M J Williamson B K Mowbray 3 2 Seaswift Joy 2 fr 15,000.00 2/1 1-53.2 2.40 J P Stormont J P Stormont 4 11 Opoutama 11 fr 6,375.00 8/8 1-53.3 2.80 Z E Butcher B Purdon 5 12 Partyon 12 fr 4,735.00 5/4 1-53.3 3.00 Mark Purdon M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 6 7 Step Up 7 fr 3,770.00 9/9 1-53.9 5.60 D J Butcher S G Telfer 7 3 Juice Brogden 3 fr 3,770.00 6/6 1-53.9 6.00 N A Chilcott Miss N A Chilcott 8 10 Bonnie Joan 10 fr 3,770.00 4/5 1-54.0 6.10 D J Dunn C T Dalgety 9 1 Christanna 1 fr 3,770.00 10/10 1-54.5 8.90 P A Butcher M G Berger 10 8 American Empress 8 fr 3,770.00 11/12 1-54.7 9.90 S W Abernethy J M Young 11 6 Bettor's Heart 6 fr 3,770.00 7/7 1-56.0 16.10 J R Dunn P D Bagrie 12 4 Lynbar Rose 4 fr 3,770.00 12/11 1-56.7 19.60 M W McKendry MNZM J M Young $150,000.00   Scratchings SCR 9 Carlas Pixel 9                     Divs: $4.20. $1.70. $2.10. $1.60. Quinella $9.30. Trifecta $72.70. First4 $508.20. Margins: 1/2 length, 2 lengths, 1/2 length Times: Mile Rate: 1-52.7 Last 800m: 56.0 Last 400m: 28.2 Placed Horses:       Utmost Delight 2013 4 B m Bettor's Delight - Victor Supreme   (by Placid Victor)    Trainer: S J Reid, Pukekohe    Owner: C J Roberts    Breeder: C J Roberts    Delishka 2013 4 Br m Bettor's Delight - Balishka   (by Badlands Hanover)    Trainer: B K Mowbray, Russley    Owner: Nanticoke Racing Inc    Breeder: E W Knight,B K Mowbray    Seaswift Joy 2013 4 B m Bettor's Delight - Swift Belle   (by Christian Cullen)    Trainer: J P Stormont, Pukekohe    Owner: M I Shinn, Mrs P G Redmond, J R Redmond, G S Redmond, D C Redmond, A G Redmond    Breeder: M J Prendergast,Mrs P G Redmond,M I Shinn

Steven Reid is hoping for a nasty Harness Jewels on Saturday. Like aggressive nasty. Drivers getting stuck into each other out on the track, unfriending each other on Facebook the next day, food fight in the drivers' room type nasty. That might be hoping for a bit much but it might be then, and only then, Pukekohe trainer Reid has a shot as a Harness Jewels double. There is no doubt both Reid's four-year-old Star Galleria (Emerald) and Utmost Delight (Diamond) are good enough to win their $150,000 divisions. In fact, give them the appropriate front line draws and they could be close to good things, definitely warm favourites. But the problem is both Star Galleria and Utmost Delight have drawn wide on the second line in their mobile miles, often the kiss of death at Cambridge. Unless, of course, Saturday's races are run upside down, with super fast sectionals early, making rare swoopers victories a reality. If that dream scenario unfolds Reid is adamant he has the horsepower to take advantage. "I need them to go hard in both my races or maybe we can't win, it could be that simple," admits Reid. "Mile racing at Cambridge can be hard enough but if you have to come wide and they run home [800m] in 55 seconds it can be impossible. "But looking at the fields I think we have a chance because they could be really hard run races." Reid has a point as both four-year-old pacing dashers lack a dominant favourite to lead and deter attackers and they also have enough gate speed and form doubts spread across the front line to suggest early fireworks. Take Star Galleria's race. If key rival Eamon Maguire was drawn to lead the race could be as good as over, with very little likelihood of attack. Instead, he is drawn the second line and Reid hopes driver Zac Butcher can turn his rival into an ally. "I am hoping Zac can get straight on his [Eamon Maguire's] back and get a cart into the race, either early or late." If that happens Reid knows his rep has the raw speed to capitalise, with Star Galleria brilliant at Alexandra Park last Friday. He has already claimed some serious open class scalps this season, including Heaven Rocks when he led and won the Flying Mile on this track in January. "He is right back to his best but that tempo is crucial. I hope they go nuts up front." Utmost Delight looks one of the few horses all day who can come wide and win. Utmost Delight is a group one winning mare who looks at her peak in a race where some key rivals have form or barrier draw (Bonnie Joan) concerns. "She has needed her last two runs to bring her back to her peak, which often my horses do. "But she was great last Friday night and has really come on with it this week. There looks to be some speed and some aggressive drivers in her race so again, we need that early burn. "If we get that and she gets the right three-wide cart into the race I know she can win." As good as Utmost Delight is, she has got into tight odds at $3.50 for a mare with her draw and punters will almost certainly be better waiting to back either of Reid's pair on the day or on the tote. Wait, and then hope, for some good old fashioned aggression. Michael Guerin

Steven Reid finds himself between a rock and a hard place on the best horse racing at Alexandra Park in Auckland tonight. But that doesn't mean punters still shouldn't back Star Galleria in the event of the night, race seven. Tonight, Alexandra Park hosts its only all-mile race meeting, which is ideal for horses such as Star Galleria, who is one of the favourites for the Harness Jewels at Cambridge on Saturday week. Having beaten some of the elite horses in the country and finished fourth in the Auckland Cup, the best version of Star Galleria would be good enough to overcome barrier eight, even though the Alexandra Park mile start point is less than ideal. But Reid, like most of the trainers heading to the Jewels, would prefer an easy run rather than anything that will give his charge a headache eight days out from a $150,000 race. To make matters worse, with regular driver Tony Herlihy sidelined with broken ribs, Reid will do the driving himself, meaning he will have to make the crucial decisions. "Obviously, I want to win and still think he will but I am not really sure what to do from barrier eight," admits Reid. "If I go out hard and everybody inside him does, too, then he could have a really hard run, which is hardly ideal. "But if you go back to last and nobody moves then he might end up in a position he can't win from. "So I think I have to have a couple of plans. Maybe the first one is let him roll off the gate and see what happens inside him, looking to get handy. Or drop back to last and then just take off at the 800m and get handy because he should be good enough to win if he only has to sit three wide the last 800m." That could make for a nervous watch for punters who take the short odds but Reid is so happy with how his four-year-old trialled last weekend it may not matter. It just means $2 should be your line in the sand for punting. Reid has his other Jewels-bound four-year-old in the same race, with high class mare Utmost Delight drawn one on the second line. "She is very well too and worked brilliantly on Wednesday morning," he says. "So she can win but probably only if Opoutama holds the lead from the ace draw and I don't think that will probably happen." On a night where punters should be cautious about backing any Jewels runner who could get a hard run, Reid has some depth to his five starters. "I think Double O Heaven can win race five if she lobs the trail while punters should forgive Bubble Gum [race two] his last start, he will definitely improve as he all but choked down in that race. "And Puma Road is working well enough to go close in race three so they all have realistic chances." It is a former Jewels winner who looks the bet of the night, bad barrier and all, with One Over Da Moon (race eight) a standout on sheer class and his exceptional record in Alexandra Park sprint races. Michael Guerin

The words of a champion horseman are one of the few ghosts haunting trainer Steven Reid as he prepares Star Galleria for tomorrow night's $100,000 Taylor Mile. The speed freak pacer is the $2.60 opening favourite for the group one sprint, one of four group races as Alexandra Park kicks off its last major carnival of the season tomorrow night. Star Galleria has developed from a speedster lacking strength last season into one of the best pacers in the country behind Lazarus with a series of high-class victories over the summer, downing the likes of Heaven Rocks and Jack's Legend with ease. While he hasn't raced since his effortless win in the City of Auckland Free-For-All a month ago, the four-year-old thrilled Reid winning his Pukekohe workout last Saturday in a fast time on a soaked track. "He felt great and I have no doubt he is better than he was a month or two ago," says Reid. "He has got stronger again and I couldn't be happier with him. "The Puke track is fast at the moment but he still paced 3:2 for his 2400m on a wet track, his last 800m in 55 seconds so he is ready." The only concern Reid had after last Saturday's spectacular workout win was the words of champion driver Maurice McKendry, who drove runner-up Let It Ride. "Maurice sat on our back and never pulled out and after the workout he told me his horse was jogging," says Reid. "So maybe he has come over here in really good form, I suppose we will find out on Friday." Let It Ride is a member of Tim Butt's Menangle stable and was a close second to eventual Miracle Mile runner-up Jilliby Kung Fu in the Chariots of Fire in February. He looked very impressive during last Saturday's workout and his gate speed and sprint prowess are honed by his Sydney racing diet so with barrier two he has emerged as a real danger in the race. A G's White Socks has the ace draw and More The Better is drawn on Let It Ride's back, suggesting all four favourites should be handy, almost always the key to Taylor Mile success. Trotting young gun Enghien has opened favourite against the older horses in the $100,000 Anzac Cup, with the aid of barrier two and the fact his connections believe he is more comfortable around Alexandra Park. But the favourite for one of tomorrow night's other group races Luby Lou goes into the $60,000 Sires' Stakes Trotters Champs with no experience right-handed, which may be why bookies are giving an appealing $2 for the superstar filly, keeping Renezmae safe at $5.80 after her impressive northern debut last Friday. The race looks one of the deeper three-year-old trot features at Alexandra Park in recent years as the breed continues to develop at the two and three-year-old levels through better breeding and more racing opportunities. That is also being reflected in the high number of two-year-old trotters racing this season compared with five years ago, the resurgence suggesting HRNZ's recent boosts of stakes for the three trotting races at the Jewels to $125,000 was the right decision. Michael Guerin

The cloud of doom hovering over the career of Auckland Cup winner Vincent is clearing. The exceptional four-year-old is now rated a good chance of racing again next season just weeks after fears he may need to be retired to stud because of a suspensory injury. Trainer Mark Purdon says the magnificent looking pacer could even be back at the races as soon as early next year. "We are definitely aiming him at getting back to the races, not a stud career," Purdon confirmed to the Herald. "Initially when he got injured it looked like that may not be the case we really feared it might be the end of his racing career. "But things since then have been far more positive." Vincent had just won the Auckland Cup and was favourite for the Ballarat Cup and Chariots Of Fire when he damaged his suspensory in late January. That also ruled him out of the Miracle Mile and he was brought back to New Zealand for a thorough veterinary inspection, which had it suggested he was finished as a racehorse, would have seen negotiations start with stud farms. "But he has been at the clinic at Matamata and they are hopeful that stem cell injections into the area can help it heal 100 per cent," explained Purdon. "He has already had one course and is now on his next and apparently the nature of the injury is not as bad as it can be. So it is very early days but I'd like to think he will be back racing." Even all going well Vincent won't be back to try and thwart stablemate Lazarus's attempt at a third New Zealand Cup come November or the Inter Dominions in Victoria a few weeks later. But if and when he does make it back to the track he will add much needed glamour to the New Zealand pacing stocks. It is almost unprecedented to have so many top horses leave the country or be retired in such a short period of time, with Have Faith In Me, Heaven Rocks and Waikiki Beach having left over the summer while Smolda was retired last year. Add to that the injuries to great mares Dream About Me and The Orange Agent and Auckland Cup runner-up Titan Banner and the cupboard at the highest level is awfully bare. For once the Australian ranks seem to have more depth, with My Field Marshal there now and horses like Chicago Bull, Soho Tribeca and Jilliby Kung Fu having emerged. A fully healthy version of Vincent has done enough to suggest he is as good as them and if he can return to the track he remains the heir apparent to Lazarus, who you would have to think would be retired at the end of next season. One of the genuine class acts to have emerged from the sparse local summer of pacing has been Star Galleria, who blew his rivals away again at Alexandra Park last Friday. After a roller coaster three-year-old season last term he has developed strength to compliment his raw speed but trainer Steven Reid will not stretch him out to 3200m in the Easter Cup at Addington in a few weeks. Even though Star Galleria was a brave fourth in the Auckland Cup over that 3200m distance on December 31, Reid will stick to his original plans and aim him at the Taylor Mile and Messenger at Alexandra Park in late April and May before the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in June. With some possibility Miracle Mile runner-up Jilliby Kung Fu could be lured to New Zealand for the Jewels a clash between he, Star Galleria and Jack's Legend would set that meeting alight. Michael Guerin

The North Island Trainers and Drivers Association have appointed Scott Phelan as Youth Development Officer for the region. The role has been created to assist the youth of the industry with their development and knowledge and act as a support role for any young person who may require assistance or advice. Todd Macfarlane of the North Island Trainers and Drivers Association explained that Phelan will be available for all youth in the industry on an open door approach. “There is a lot of talent out there and we want to help nurture them and help them be the best they can be,” said Macfarlane. “Scott will be available in a support role at race meetings and trials and can be contacted at any time.” “He can also assist in enquires and view race videos, and if a rule has been breached he can also help explain what could have been done to help drivers learn from mistakes. The stipendiary stewards are also very supportive of Scott and we feel that this is a positive support base for cadets and young drivers and trainers.” “The trainers and drivers association also would like to thank the North Island Amateur and North Island Owners association for their support financially in creating this role.” Anyone wishing to seek advice or support from Phelan is encouraged to contact him directly on 022-329-9455. The Northern Harness Racing Cadets in conjunction with the North Island Branch of NZ Trainers & Drivers Association will also hold an Industry Field Day at Franklin Park Training Centre. This will be on Monday 26 March starting with lunch at 12 noon and the activities beginning at 12.30pm. Both groups are encouraging the North Island harness trainers to send along their stable hands, cadets and junior drivers so they have the opportunity to gain knowledge from our industry leaders. Speakers on the day will be Graeme Henley on pedigrees, Tony Grayling on stud duties from getting mares in foal until they are ready for the next step which is Yearling preparation. This topic will be covered by Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson. Brent Mangos and Steven Reid will part with their knowledge and opinions for selecting Yearlings to purchase and then following on Derek Balle and Owen Gillies will demonstrate how the breaking and gaiting process works. Syndication with ATC Syndicate Manager Andrew Jamieson will be the last topic on the day. The day will have its share of fun along the way with quizzes, prizes and giveaways for those in attendance. Scott Phelan in his role as the Youth Development Officer along with a delegation of the North Island Trainers & Drivers will be there to co-ordinate and over-see the afternoon. The North Island Trainers & Drivers have organised for an MVP Award for the 2017/18 season with a trip to leading trainer Gary Hall in Perth. This will be points based with all cadets and junior drivers eligible. For any further information on the day contact Sally Waters the North Island Education & Training Co-ordinator on 027 494 2850.

Even holding all the aces may not be enough for Star Galleria to down Vincent at Cambridge tomorrow. But trainer Steven Reid knows it gives his speed-freak four-year-old maybe the best chance he will ever get. The pair dominate a five-horse field for the $50,000 Futurity at the twilight meeting and punters could be forgiven for thinking the 2700m mobile is a line-up-and-win job for Vincent. He was the best three-year-old pacer in Australasia last season and returned with a crushing win in the group two Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park last Friday, a rarity for that class of pacer fresh up for the season. Vincent was so dominant last week he is odds-on to win the Auckland Cup on December 31 but he is not past the post tomorrow because Star Galleria has already shown he knows how to beat an All Stars-trained hotshot. He came from behind the mad mammoth Heaven Rocks to win the Summer Cup in national record time for a 2200m standing start last time and is clearly one of the fastest pacers in the country over 200m. That gives driver Tony Herlihy options tomorrow. Star Galleria should lead and if he is feeling big and bold as a speedster sometimes can rolling around Cambridge on a sunny afternoon, Herlihy has the option to stay in front and make Vincent cover more ground to beat him. A more likely scenario is Vincent pushing for the lead and getting it but if Star Galleria can use the passing lane to beat Heaven Rocks he has at least some hope of doing the same to Vincent. "My fella had a slight virus after his Summer Cup win but is good now and the draw gives Tony options," says Reid. "Maybe Vincent will be too good but I think we have things in our favour a bit so we will get our chance." While you can make at least some case than Vincent is vulnerable, it is impossible to do the same with Speeding Spur in tomorrow's $50,000 Flying Mile Trot. With Monbet sidelined again, Speeding Spur is the best trotter racing in the Southern Hemisphere and while Temporale beat him at Alexandra Park a week ago Speeding Spur was magnificent considering his second line draw and that he had to come wide in his first start in nine months. His trainers believe he has improved with that outing and he has rolling gate speed so should be able to work to the front, which would surely be race over unless he underperforms. Michael Guerin

Trainer Steven Reid heads to Alexandra Park tonight expecting to win two races but hoping for three. And while that level of confidence is rare for almost any trainer on a strong Friday night, Reid has winter’s magic formula on his side. Every winter good two and three-year-old horses coming out of the classics and Jewels drop back into the grades and more often than not savage their inferior opponents. Reid has a double helping of that tonight, with Utmost Delight (race five) and Star Galleria (race seven) having been players in the group ones this season so they pick themselves even from wide draws in their respective legs of Pick6. Star Galleria struggled through autumn after looking like an equine jet in the spring but last start he led and smashed similar opposition to what he meets tonight. “He felt back to his best last time and I think he should win again because he has the option of using his speed early or later,” says Reid. Utmost Delight’s group one form is more recent, finishing third in Spanish Armada’s NZ Oaks before galloping at the Jewels. “On form she has to be the one to beat,” admits Reid. “I did take it easy on her after the Jewels and while I was happy with her at the workouts last Saturday she did come to the end of it in the last 100m. “But that outing has really brought her on and she will be ready for this.” Utmost Delight has a clear performance edge on her rivals but the up to Rating68 race is very strong for that grade, with plenty of winter winners to come out of it. While Reid is bursting with confidence with his three-year-olds, he is more hopeful with juvenile Rain Man in race one. “He has shown good ability and the half blinds go on him but he might just be coming to the end of his campaign.” While that race only contains six starters it is one of the highlight of the night, with both Aramis and King Of Swing looking potential Derby horses for next season if they build on their recent form. As the harness racing season starts to wind down domestically -- with Dexter Dunn’s record quest the main winter focus --- there is still some serious NZ talent racing in Australia. The best is NSW and NZ Derby winner Vincent, who faces a second line draw in the A$150,000 Breeders Challenge at Menangle on Sunday afternoon. The meeting also hosts his juvenile stablemate Sicario and the big boys Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay in the Len Smith Mile   Michael Guerin

The Pukekohe 3-year-old Art Major gelding who earlier this season beat recent Emerald Jewels winner, Jacks Legend in a Sires Stakes heat (October 14), was back to his very best at Alexandra Park on Friday. Star Galleria didn’t beat any horses of Jacks Legend’s quality in the feature pace, but they way he left them to it by five-and-a-half lengths - in very good time (2:40.1) - suggests he’s as good as what his his Pukekohe trainer/driver, Steven Reid, has made out all all along. “It felt like the old Star Galleria was back. It was good to drive him tonight and get a real feel as to where he’s exactly at in race conditions. It can be different in work but he set some nice sectionals tonight. I was pleased with the way he paced strongly to the line,” Reid said. Star Galleria and Reid led all the way from gate four in Friday’s $14,999 Marlin Transport 2200m mobile for the R67 to R76 pacers. The bay paced a 1:57.3 mile rate and came home in 55.5 and 27.8 on a cold old Auckland night. He was the $3.30 favourite. Reid always thought Star Galleria was a solid Jewels prospect, but when he only qualified on the cusp of the rankings Reid decided to bring him back north, rather than start him against the guns in Ashburton. ““Earlier this season I thought he was just below Alta Machete and Vincent in the 3-year-old ranks. After those two I thought he had the measure of most of the rest. “That’s why I took him to Christchurch last month, but perhaps he’s taken longer than what I thought he would to get over his injury which put him back quite a bit,” Reid said. “And on hindsight perhaps I should have started him in the Final down south, but he wasn’t going like he did tonight, and his long-term welfare is what I’m most concerned about,” he added. Seven months ago Reid would have given Star Galleria little chance of winning so soon. He kicked out at a gate and suffered serious leg injuries. “He got a massive hole in his leg and I actually thought that might be his career all over before it hardly started. The vet told me if the hole had been three or four inches lower on the hock that would have been the end of him ever racing again. “His health comes first and I believe if I look after him he will make a very nice 4-year-old. As far as I’m aware he’s not paid up for the Breeder’s Crown, and now that he’s back healthy again, I think I’ll give him maybe one more race this season and then tip him out,” Reid said. Star Galleria’s fourth win in nine starts also provided Reid with his first driving success of 2016-2017 and first since he steered Mo Casino to win at Alexandra Park in January last year. Meanwhile, the feature trot – the $14,999 Riordan & West Transport Mobile for the R75 to R95 squaregaiters saw Robert Dunn pick up his first win in eight starts with Yagunnakissmeornot. Yagunnakissmeornot relocated from Sean McCaffrey and Ross Paynter's former Cambridge barn in January and Friday’s triumph was her first for the season.. The 5-year-old Love You – Dutch Annie brown mare has now won 13 of her career 41 starts – all 13 of them at Alexandra Park (from 35 starts). Her stake earnings currently sit at $131,129. Duane Ranger

Steven Reid knows he’s taking a gamble but an impressive workout at Pukekohe last Saturday has convinced the Franklin conditioner to take Star Galleria south and try and qualify him for the Harness Jewels Final. Star Galleria and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) will start from gate four in tonight's Garrards New Zealand Sires Stakes Sophomore Classic for the 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The Listed 1950m mobile is worth $40,000 and Reid knows he is going to have to finish in the first two to qualify for the Group One $150,000 3yo Emerald at Ashburton Raceway on June 3. Star Galleria is currently ranked 21 and has earned $23,675 this season. He needs another $8,711 to make the 12-strong final. “It’s a bit of a punt. He went so well at the workouts on Saturday I just had to give him his chance to line up against the best. I honestly think he’s a very good 3-year-old and at his best would hold his own against the guns,” Reid said. Six months ago Reid would have given him little chance of heading south. The Art Major gelding kicked out at a gate and suffered serious leg injuries. “He suffered a massive hole in his leg and I actually thought that might be his career all over before it hardly started. The vet told me if the hole had been three or four inches lower on the hock that would have been the end of him ever racing again. “He left last night (Monday) and I’ll go down later in the week. Simon (McMullan) is looking after him,” Reid said. Star Galleria and Reid trailed Alta Intrigue for most of Saturday's left handed R64 to R77 Workout. In the lane they strolled passed the pace-maker to win by half a length under a huge hold. The gifted bay paced the 2500m mobile in 3:12.9 (mile rate 2:04 even) and home in 57.7 and 27.1. “I actually timed him to go 26.8. I never let him go. That was a pretty nice win and showed me that he’s back. He was once exceptional in work but it’s taken him a long time after his injury to get back to where he should be. “He’s starting to show signs of his old self and if he keeps improving like I think he can win on Friday. It won’t be easier but he is one of the better 3-year-olds I have ever put a bridle on and he feels like the old Star Galleria again,” Reid said. Reid said he regretted throwing Star Galleria into the deep end and then backed him up when he resumed from his spell at Alexandra Park on April 21 and 28. “They went 2:39 in his first run back for almost five months and then the following week they went 2:36.9. That’s a hell of a big ask after what he went through. You can’t change history but looking back now I shouldn’t have backed him up,” said Reid. Star Galleria was fifth in both of those races finishing two-and-a-half lengths and six lengths from the winners respectively. If he doesn’t finish in the first two on Friday Reid said he would bring the gelding home and then possibly look at the Queensland Derby in Brisbane in July. He is not paid up for the Breeders’ Crown. Star Galleria has raced six times this season for two wins. All-up his career record stands at seven starts, three wins, no placings and $34,44 in stakes. Reid owns him with his breeder Reg Caldow and John Screen and Terese Screen. Duane Ranger

John Dickie thought all his Delightful Lady Classic dreams had come tumbling down early last week. His impressive debutante winner on February 10 – New York Rain was found cast and upside down in her stall. Dickie’s son and co-trainer, Josh and Canterbury trainer Paul Court assisted the promising 2-year-old and then vets were called in. “We had to scratch her from last week’s race. We got the vet in on Tuesday afternoon because she had tied up and the bloods showed that. Then we treated her throughout the week and she just kept rapidly improving,” Clevedon-based Dickie said. Remarkably the brown American Ideal filly the lined up at the Auckland Trotting Club’s Workouts at Alexandra Park last Saturday and went a quicker time than what she won on debut. New York Rain beat Alta Shangri La and Delilaah by one-and-a-quarter lengths and five lengths, pacing the 1700m mobile in 2:04.8 (mile rate 1:58.1) and came her last 800m and 400m in 57.8 and 28.5. New York Rain drew seven of eight in the fifth Young Guns heat at 'The Park' on February 10. She and Simon Lawson were last early and then three back on the outer before looming up three-wide on the turn and then proving way too strong in the straight. New York Rain was the $6.40 fourth favourite that night and paced the 1700m mobile in 2:07.2 (mile rate 2:00.4) and home in 58 even and 27.4 beating Gold Orchid (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Purest Silk (Brent Mangos) by three quarters of a length each way. “It’s incredible to think how much she recovered in a week, and she’s trained on brilliantly since. The only thing we don’t like about her chances on Friday is the draw (13), but she’s still good enough to win it,” Dickie said. New York Rain will start from five on the second row in the Group Two $80,000 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic for the 2-year-old pacing fillies. Her dam Ohoka Moon (In The Pocket), who was trained by Steven Reid, won nine races ($112, 963), including a placing in the 2007 Northern Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. “She’s improving at just the right time. I think she has got a huge career ahead of her. She hasn’t got a lot of speed but she just keeps on truckin. She’s got a big motor and we are excited about her. “There’s plenty of 2-year-old races for her up here this season, so hopefully we can start off with a Group Two win on Friday,” Dickie said. New York Rain will be wearing the blue and white colours of Dickie’s good friend – the late Simon Pavlovich. “I requested Simon’s colours after he passed away last year. I had known Simon all of his life and we used to knock around together. He was a friend and a good horseman and someone who was very special to me. ”I got his colours as a mark of respect to him - so I can always remember him,” Dickie said. New York Rain is owned by Dickie (John) and his partner Linda German, and was bred by Cavalla Bloodstock. Speaking from Melbourne, Dickie said he rated New York Rain and Speeding Spur as his two best winning chances of the weekend. Speeding Spur has drawn the outside of the front-line in Saturday's Group One $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at Melton's Tabcorp Park. “Just about every time we have taken the horse to Melton we have copped the visitor’s draw. It’s becoming more than coincidence. “But we’ve won from out there previously with him and I’m very confident he can do it again. He is very fit now,” said Dickie. Dickie advised Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) stewards on Thursday that Speeding Spur has suffered swelling in a hind fetlock.   The multiple Group One-winning trotter will be examined on Friday.     Duane Ranger

Three-year-olds will take centre stage at Alexandra Park on Friday night with two $30,000 races for the colts/geldings and fillies respectively. Both are New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands-sponsored 2200m mobile events with the colts and geldings Graduate kicking off at 7.03pm (race 3) and the fillies Graduette starting at 8.21pm (race 6). One driver who would desperately love to win one or both heats is South Auckland reinsman Josh Dickie, who together with his father John, leases property off Rosslands Stud at Clevedon, and also works half a dozen of their horses. The owner of Rossland Stud, Kerry Hoggard passed away in Auckland in October 2015 when he was the Auckland Trotting Club president. But his wife Marilyn is still a strong supporter of harness racing and the Dickies, and thanks to her loyalty to the sport, Dickie (Josh) was able to pay $100,000 for Lot 72 – a Bettor’s Delight – Yankee Dream for a colt named Bettorstartdreaming at last Monday’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. “It would mean a lot if Master George could win for Marilyn at Alexandra Park on Friday, because she is such a wonderful lady and has put so much faith in us. She deserves every success that comes her way,” Dickie said. “And the colt can get some of it despite his lack of form in his last two starts,” he added. Dickie currently sits on 299 career driving wins and said he would especially love to nail win number 300 on behind Master George. The son of Bettor's Delight and Lizzie Maguire has drawn well in the Graduate but meets a nice field of quality 3-year-old pacers. “I like him. He’s had terrible draws since I won behind him at Cambridge on January 6. He gave me a real good feel that night and beat quite a nice field. I reckon he can get a slice of the cake from three,” Dickie said. The 25-year-old was also upbeat about the Steven Reid trained Could Be Good in the Graduette, but said the filly would have been a better winning chance had she not drawn the outside of the front line. “She strung two good wins together at Cambridge a few weeks ago and then was an unlucky fourth. She’’s gone real well since then and has quite a bit of speed to call on. “It’s just a shame she has drawn eight, so I’ll have to play the start by ear. If she gets a nice sit the others will knows she’s in the race.,” Dickie said. Dickie paid a tribute to the New Zealand Sires Stakes Board for putting its left-over money into 3-year-olds just below the top echelon. “If gives the 3-year-olds just below the guns a chance to race for good money and I take my hat off to the sponsors for that. It’s exactly what this game needs,” he said. Dickie said C K Spur (race 5) and Kate Black (race 9) were also good winning chances on Friday. “C K Spur has been racing out of his grade recently and the drop-back will suit him nicely, while Kate Black won well here a fortnight ago and has the draw (3) to go on with it,” he said. Duane Ranger

The 4-year-old gelding who finished fourth in Vincent’s stunning New Zealand record win at Alexandra Park on December 31 is going to take all sorts of beating in Sunday’s 2017 Rotorua Grass Cup. In fact Mo Casino’s driver, Zac Butcher, rated him “a very good” winning chance, and easily the best of his four drives at the Harness Racing Waikato’s meeting at Arawa Park. If Butcher is right, the classy South Auckland reinsman will achieve back-to-back wins in the Cup. Last year he got up the passing lane with the Barry Purdon trained Hartofdixie. Hartofdixie paced the 2600m stand in 3:24.1. It’s a time that Butcher believes Mo Casino can at least match in the $8,000 Armstrong Family sponsored feature pace for the R66 and faster pacers – especially after his electrifying New Year’s Eve run. The Steven Reid and Simon McMullan trained son of Butler’s Delight has drawn six of 10. “This is ‘Mo’s’ first start back since he ran a real creditable fourth behind Vincent, and he felt superb that night finishing less than two seconds behind the very good colt. If anything that horse is the big mover in the New Zealand 3-year-old pacing ranks. “This is a big drop in class from city company and if I’m patient in the big long straight, I’m confident he’ will be too good,” Butcher said. Vincent set that New Zealand record in the $20,000 The Woodlands Yearling Parade Handicap for the R67 to R95 pacers. The 3-year-old Art Major colt stopped the clock in 3:19.6 for the 2700m stand beating Lancome's all-comers record of 3:20.9 set at Cambridge Raceway in 2011. It also beat Tas Man Bromac's 3-year-old record of 3:22 even set at Ascot Park in January 2015. Vincent is now headed for the Victoria Cup at Melton’s Tabcorp Park on February 4. “The standing start suits Mo Casino perfectly because he steps so well. He’s a genuine racehorse and if I drive him correctly you should see that come out in him on Sunday,” the 25-year-old Clevedon horseman said. Mo Casino is having his first look at Arawa Park and he is also having his first race on grass. The bay has placed in one of his two standing starts, and all-up he’s had 19 starts for three wins, thee seconds and a third ($29,003). Meanwhile Butcher said the Reid and McMullan trained My Kiwi Lady was the second best of his four drives at the meeting. “Simon told me today that they would scratch the filly from race nine (2) in favour of the seventh now that there have been a couple of scratchings.” That means the 3-year-old daughter of Art Major will race in the $6,000 - R48 to R56 pace, over the $6,500 - R55 to R64 rated event. “She’s been racing against some nice horses at Cambridge and Alexandra Park and gets back in grade here. “It’s an 1800m mobile so she’s going to have to do things right and then if I’m handy I just have to be patient on the bigger track. She can get some of it with the trip.” Here’s what Butcher said about his two other drives: Race 3: Charlie Harper (7): “ I drove him when he was fourth (and second favourite) at Waipa last start. He did a good job last start but will still need the run to suit in this. He’s the sort of horse who needs a bit of luck but if he gets it he can win one very soon.” Race 6: Delray (2): “He’s an honest entire (4yo) who people should follow. He’s lightly raced and not a big fella, and need to follow the speed. He has the draw and can go close if given one run at them. If not Sunday his time will come.” The Rotorua Grass Cup is the second race in the five-strong 2016-2017 North Island Country Cups Championship. The John and Josh Dickie trained Joanednobettor won the first race – the Te Awamutu Grass Cup on December 28. The three others are the Parawai Cup at Thames (January 21), the Wellington Cup at the Kapiti Coast on (January 27), and the Otaki Cup also at the Kapiti Coast (January 29). Duane Ranger

It's the ‘calm before the Group and Listed storm’ at Alexandra Park on Friday, but some of the big guns will show their faces at 'Northern Headquarters on Friday night. There will be 11 Group races and one Listed event at the December 9, 16 and 31 meetings. Star Galleria, one of the North island's best 3-year-olds, will have a busy December at Alexandra Park with the Group Two $50,000 Alabar 3YO Classic on December 16, and the Listed $175,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 3YO Open on New Year's Eve his main targets. The above average son of Art Major will start from gate five (of seven) in Friday night’s $13,500 Teng Tools Mobile for the R69 to R82 rated pacers. Star Galleria is currently ranked R75. Co-trainer, Simon McMullan wants Star Galleria to return to the form he had before finishing sixth in the $160,000 Sires Stakes Final at Addington Raceway on November 8. “We couldn’t be happier with him now. He has travelled back well and thrived since. We spoke to Tony (Herlihy MNZM) after that race and he was a bit disappointed he didn’t kick on and finish in the top four. “He just didn’t stick on like we thought he could. Sure it was a quality field but we were hoping for better,” said McMullan who co-trains Star Galleria with Steven Reid at Pukekohe. Star Galleria set a very solid clip out in front in the 1950m mobile Group One feature on Cup Day and was then mauled by the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen duo of Ultimate Machete and favourite More The Better. Star Galleria finished just over 10 lengths from the winner and McMullan knew he was better than that. “They went real quick (1:52.6 mile rate) and that day the good draw actually turned out to be a bad one for us because we did all the work in front on a New Zealand record pace,” McMullan said. Star Galleria has won three of his five starts including once over Friday’s 2200m mobile. He won his previous Alexandra Park and Cambridge Raceway starts before heading to Christchurch. ‘We are confident he will go a good race. Even though he’s not quite 100 per cent fit he will be in the next few weeks with all of the rich racing that lies ahead of him at Alexandra Park. “He goes into Friday’s race with a nice workout win behind him,” McMullan said. Star Galleria beat Hug The Wind, Kenrick, Alta Las Vegas, Joanednobettor, Vasari and Franco Cristiano in last Saturday’s 2050m mobile Workout at Pukekohe. Reid settled Star Galleria fourth along the markers before going to sit parked at the 900m before Hug The Wind went around and gave them cover at the 600m. In the lane Star Galleria pounced out of the one-one to win going away by one-and-a-quarter lengths. He stopped the clock in 2:38.2 (mile rate 2:04.1) and home in 57.2 and 27.1. McMullan was rapt with the acceleration the gelding displayed in the final 150m – a trait which stand him in good stead on Friday. “That run was encouraging and if he can repeat that he will be tough to beat. In saying that the Dickie horses do concern me,” McMullan said. By that he meant Bettor Think Quick and Motown who have drawn three and seven respectively. “Bettor Think Quick went real good when finishing third after a spell last start and Motown has won six races and is nearing a $100,000 earner. He has also placed in a Group One race (Emerald 3yo Jewels).. “They are the biggest dangers. Our other fella in the race – Mo Casino – could place if things went his way,” McMullan said. Star Galleria will be driven by Zac Butcher on Friday. Regular pilot Herlihy is committed to his stable runner, Bonnie’s Khaleesi. Meanwhile, December is the Auckland Trotting Club's busiest and biggest month. The big races on offer are: December 9: Group Three $30,000 Summer Cup Group Three $30,000 Caduceus Club Northern Breeders Fillies & Mares Stakes December 16: Group Two $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial Ladyship 3yo Fillies Stakes Group Two $40,000 Lyell Creek Stakes for the open class trotters Group One $100,000 Rosslands Queen of Hearts Fillies & Mares Pace Group Two $50,000 Alabar 3yo Classic Group Two $40,000 Franklin Cup December 31: Group One $150,00 Alabar Sires Stakes 3yo Fillies Final Group One $80,000 National Trot Listed $175,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 3yo Open GROUP ONE $250,000 TRILLIAN TRUST AUCKLAND CUP.   Duane Ranger

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