Racing: Reid expects Herlihy to star

By Michael Guerin

Tony Herlihy. Photo / Greg Bowker
Tony Herlihy. Photo / Greg Bowker

The pre-Sires' Stakes conversation between Steven Reid and Tony Herlihy today will be short.

The pair combine with Star Galleria to take on the might of the All Stars, who have four or even five reps in the 3-year-old group one.

Usually taking on that many Purdon-Rasmussen runners in a 3-year-old race only ends in disappointment one way or another - as we learnt with Hughie Green in this very race two years ago.

However, after two brave and brilliant heat wins in the north were followed by a trial's thrashing of Ultimate Machete last Wednesday and then Star Galleria drew the best of the favourites, confidence is the Reid-McMullan camp is growing.

"I have known he was a good horse for a while," says Reid without wanting to talk his new stable star up for fear of a fall.

"A few weeks ago I worked him one windy afternoon at Pukekohe and he paced his last 400m in just over 26 seconds.

"That was as quick as I have ever had a horse work there, as good as Monkey King or Gold Ace.

"I am not saying he is as good as them yet but he has their speed."

So talent won't be the issue for Star Galleria and Reid is confident he can cross to the lead after the positive feel he got when buzzed off the gate at the trials.

If he does lead, Reid expects pressure from the likes of More The Better and Ultimate Machete.

It is not so much team driving he fears, more the fact the Purdon-Rasmussen horses are so good and so fit they don't let rivals away with dawdling leads. "I think he can lead but I also expect some pressure and then it will be up to Tony to decide what to do next.

"A couple of times in the past I have given Tony pre-race instructions but who am I kidding? He has been doing this for decades and I will let him decide what he does out there.

"All I will be saying to him is that the horse is spot on and I think he isn't just a speed horse, he has some bottom to him."

More The Better is still just the favourite after a dominant juvenile season but he has been good without being spectacular so far this term.

Which sums up all the Purdon-Rasmussen reps; all look good enough to win but none to be totally feared.

More The Better looks the most likely to settle handy to the speed with cover so appeals most but the race has the potential for an upset, not so much in the winner but definitely the placegetters.

The punt: The Herlihy factor might be enough to get Star Galleria home but you would want cover with More The Better.

When it comes to Monbet a bad draw usually only means a better dividend.

While some punters will have reservations about taking odds-on about the trotting champ from three on the second line in the NZ Free-For-All, his record would suggest it probably won't matter.

Monbet hasn't lost a race in New Zealand for over a year and has only one defeat in that time, ironically when he drew well but didn't have the gate speed to use it and generally looked out of sorts in the Trotting Grand Prix in Australia last February.

He has won 11 of his past 12 starts and almost all have been from poor draws. The exceptions being when he drew barrier two and thrashed Stent in a mile at Methven last December and when he started from the ace before downing Speeding Spur in the Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park.

His other nine wins in the past year have come from barriers 7 (three times), 8, 10, 11 and from handicaps of 20m (twice) and 30m.

So basically Monbet almost always draws poorly and almost always wins. The reason is his obvious superiority but also he has speed like a pacer but his French trotting blood enables him to sustain that sprint for a long time.

So the $1.60 from the second line today is probably fair, especially as Marcoola looks his only in-form rival with the speed to match Monbet, or at least go close to doing so.

Marcoola's open class debut third behind Monbet in the Flying Mile at Ashburton two weeks ago was good enough to suggest that if he jumps straight to the front today he will give Monbet a decent target to chase.

But the reality is Monbet has sat parked outside horses at least as good as Marcoola and beaten them before and that is factoring in that Marcoola can, and will, get the front.

So, quite simply, anything but another victory for Monbet today would come as a shock.

- NZ Herald

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