The Gold Ace has finally found where he belongs in the pacing world - and it isn't New Zealand.
The former multiple group one winner was in danger of becoming a cautionary tale in harness racing, a superstar 3-year-old who never fulfilled his potential in the big time.
While he won the NZ Free-For-All and Flying Mile at Cambridge last season for trainer and co-owner Steven Reid, The Gold Ace was troubled by expensive niggling injuries and a lack of consistent standing start manners.
For a horse once valued at more than A$1 million ($1.1 million), such spasmodic returns were not enough.
So Reid bit the bullet with the Harness Jewels and NZ Derby winner this season, ignoring the New Zealand Cup meeting to campaign him in Sydney. And when that only partially worked, and with a team at home needing his attention, Reid adopted the "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude.
He transferred The Gold Ace to superstar NSW trainers Belinda and Luke McCarthy and the results have been instantaneous and lucrative.
After winning a A$50,000 free-for-all in Sydney 10 days ago be bolted away with last Saturday's A$100,000 Cranbourne Cup at group one level.
The Gold Ace used his gate speed to lead before driver Andy McCarthy unleashed a stunning 26.7sec, second last 400m to establish a winning break. That earned him automatic entry into next Saturday's A$425,000 Victoria Cup.
"They have done a great job with him and I was stoked by that win," said Reid.
Luke McCarthy, who has a sensational team, said The Gold Ace was the real deal.
"He is a really good horse and we will be aiming him at all the group ones, maybe with the exception of the Hunter Cup because of the standing start," he told the Herald.
The Gold Ace will be joined in the Victoria Cup by Christen Me as the other Kiwi rep, with the latter pleasingly returning to Auckland after this week's race to compete at Alexandra Park and Cambridge over the New Year.
The win capped a remarkable night for Reid and his association with the McCarthy family, albeit one step removed on another front.
Less than an hour before The Gold Ace won, the former Reid-trained pacer Washakie created a special place in history when he won his fifth straight Treuer Memorial at Bankstown for trainer-driver John McCarthy, Luke's father.
Reid sold Washakie seven years ago when he was in the shadow of the great Monkey King and he has since gone on to win more than A$1.8 million.
And on the home front Reid and McMullen also have plenty to look forward to, with Easy On The Eye suggesting he is in for a big summer with his effortless win in Friday night's Franklin Cup.
Meanwhile, champion mares Adore Me and Bettor Cover Lover headline a huge premier meeting at Alexandra Park on Friday when they clash in the $100,000 Queen Of Hearts.
* The Gold Ace is back to his best in Australia.
* He is now one of the favourites for Saturday's A$425,000 Victoria Cup.
* He will be joined in that huge race by Christen Me, who will then return to Auckland to race.
* Great mares Adore Me and Bettor Cover Lover clash at Alexandra Park on Friday.
By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)