GREG Eurell, once an Olympic equestrian and more recently a highly successful trainer, was "taken" by a seven-year-old mare in the thoroughbred section of the Royal Queensland Show on Monday.
In fact he was so taken Mr Eurell "could not help" but anoint Secrets Surround (Falvelon-Marni) as the supreme exhibit after a long morning of exhaustive evaluation.
The mare, Mr Eurell said, had a certain star quality which lifted her above the runner-up, the 14-year-old stallion Regal Banquet (King's Best-Vanity Time).
"When I first laid eyes on her in the early classes she was clearly a stand-out," Mr Eurell said.
"The stallion was a cracking sort but the mare had a real star quality about her and I was quite taken with her.
"She has great conformation, a good manner and a lovely walk. I feel certain she would have been a beautiful yearling and has grown into a magnificent mare."
Presented by Kirsty Mason, of Warwick, Secrets Surround was an early winner on the day taking out the led class for mares four-years and older.
She then captured the class for mare, led hack type any age before being named champion thoroughbred mare and then icing the cake as supreme champion thoroughbred.
"That's a mighty thrill," Ms Mason said.
"We have completed three years in succession and it's just wonderful."
In her racing days Secrets Surround was not nearly as successful. Her 21 starts produced two victories and six minor placings for track earnings of $30,400.
She last raced in April 2017 when sixth of 13 runners at Goondiwindi.
Regal Banquet, presented for the Anderson and Powell families of Oakey, did not go home with empty saddlebags after sealing a ninth major win when successful in the class for geldings three-years and older.
"He is a marvel and this is just fabulous," Lynda Powell said.
According to Racing Information Services Australia Regal Banquet was un-raced.
Brynn Clarke said the long haul from the central coast of NSW was well worth the effort after she and Easily Written (Written Tycoon-Ask The Angels) were named best presented horse and handler.
When quizzed at the conclusion of judging, Mr Eurell, who prepared the likes of crowd favourite Apache Cat to win more than $4.5 million on the track, said it was a tough gig.
"I have looked at thousands of horses over my time and you wonder how they might turn out as older horses," he said. "Then you come to a competition such as this one and you see the end product."
Renowned auctioneer David Chester agreed with Mr Eurell's assessment of the high quality of entrants.
"It is a credit to the exhibitors the way they presented their horses," he said.