Bettor Twist back but no cert for Northern Breeders

By Michael Guerin

There is nothing Brent Mangos would like more than to gift All Stars stables a feature-race pay back but he says that could be hard-earned at Alexandra Park tonight.

Mangos recorded one of the biggest wins of his training career when South Coast Arden won the NZ Free-For-All at Addington last month but because of Covid travel restrictions he couldn’t be there and South Coast Arden spent most of the spring in the care of trainers Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen and their unofficial third partner Natalie Rasmussen, or as they are better known, the All Stars.

South Coast Arden is now back with Mangos and started hoppled work yesterday on the long road to the Miracle Mile in March but also temporarily in his care is Bettor Twist, the All Stars' exceptional filly having just returned from a brave but ultimately beaten Breeders Crown campaign in Victoria.

After her heroics in New Zealand, including a remarkable Jewels win, Bettor Twist’s defeats in Australia will shock many local harness fans but she came up against a vintage local crop racing in a style that doesn’t ideally suit her.

It was that same style, having to sit parked on tracks more suited to speed horses than wind up stayers, that nearly saw Bettor Twist come undone at Alexandra Park this time last year and it could make her vulnerable as a $2.40 favourite tonight in the Group Three Caduceus Club Northern Breeders Stakes .

“She is very well, I could tell that by the way she worked on Wednesday morning,” says Mangos, who is not only caretaker trainer but will drive Bettor Twist tonight.

“When she first got back from Victoria she was tired but she has really picked up and she worked good last Saturday but a lot better this week.

“But the draw will make it hard. I think they may go hard as they sort themselves out early and then sit up and that could mean I have to move around the field on her.

“That is a hard way to beat good mares like these and it is just as hard sitting back trying to run past them.

“So I am happy with her and she gives me the feel of a really good filly but it won’t be an easy race.”

Bettor Twist may even be more suited to the Queen Of Hearts next Friday and her price is too short tonight considering Belle Of Montana has won six Group Ones and Stylish Memphis won the Ladyship Mile in Sydney this year, earning a spot in the Miracle Mile.

Add in another Jewels winner in Need You Now and there could be plenty of very fast mares in front of Bettor Twist after the first bend, with Belle Of Montana looking very sharp at the Pukekohe workouts last weekend and maybe getting her chance to return to the winner’s circle for the first time in 22 months.

Also out of the winner’s circle this campaign has been Bolt For Brilliance, the local star having raced with heart but no luck during the super strong NZ Cup week.

He comes in relatively fresh but with that residual Cup week fitness in the 1700m open class trot (race 8) tonight but trainer-driver Tony Herlihy suggests he has worked well enough this week to win.

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