Loving Gaby has relished a return to racing at The Valley scoring a dominant Group One win under lights in the William Reid Stakes.
The Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned filly replicated her Manikato Stakes victory of the spring when she completed a night-time double on Friday.
Ridden by Craig Williams, Loving Gaby ($5.50) scored by a length from Gytrash ($15) with the $2.10 favourite Bivouac the same margin away third.
In a surprise move, Ben Melham on the expected leader Pippie took a sit as Hugh Bowman drove through on Bivouac to lead with Williams urging Loving Gaby forward to race outside the Godolphin-owned colt.
Williams took Loving Gaby to the front when the field straightened for the run home and she was strong to the line.
“She was looking for the bend last start down the straight but Craig Williams, too, it was a brilliant ride,” Maher said.
“I thought the key to this race was the start. He had to be quite forceful with her to get her in that position and I think that was the difference.
“She looked to be travelling quite well and he is a high-quality horse Bivouac, but it was her night tonight.”
As a two-year-old Loving Gaby was prepared as a miler, running second in the Champagne Stakes at Randwick last autumn, but Maher noticed a sharper three-year-old when she returned and began training her as a sprinter.
Maher said he may stretch her out in distance next campaign, but first, she has some unfinished business in Sydney.
“I wouldn’t say a race like the Golden Eagle, similar to what Sunlight did, mightn’t be out of her reach given she has been to the mile,” Maher said.
“But the TJ (Smith) has always been the plan first.
“If she pulls up well we’ll definitely look at that.”
Before Friday night’s race, Williams labelled Loving Gaby one of Australia’s best sprinters and he was vindicated with her display.
“There are not many horses at this elite level that you can ride them a little bit out of the gates, sit, and then ask them to kick a fair way from home and hold on so determinedly as she did tonight,” Williams said.