Caution around South Coast Arden
By Michael Guerin
Brent Mangos is treading warily about the return of his stable star South Coast Arden at Alexandra Park tonight and punters would be wise to do the same.
The four-year-old is back for an autumn campaign that could see him contest three Group One targets and he looks up to that level after beating open class horses during a surprising spring that saw him progress from a three-win pacer to starting in an Auckland Cup.
But while he is already open class material, Mangos says tonight is by no means South Coast Arden’s grand final and key rivals will be fitter.
“He is ready to go and has won fresh up so I am not saying he can’t win,” says Mangos.
“But in this grade when rivals are race fit it is very hard to beat them and I will drive him patiently.
“I don’t want him doing too much and being flattened for the big races coming up so while he is very much there to win I am not sure he can.”
South Coast Arden was at his most potent in the spring when driven hard in front, a trait that will make him a handy addition to the open class ranks but tonight he meets several other members of the emerging open class crop looking to fill the void left by good free-for-all pacers (Star Galleria, Mach Shard, On The Cards) heading off-shore.
Two of those are Kango and Christianshavtime, who are very different in stature and racing style but similar in ability.
Kango has been luckless yet huge in recent runs and if he can reach the front tonight it will take a good horse to get past him.
Christianshavtime is a good horse but one who doesn’t possess the gate speed yet to lead and that could see him left vulnerable to the tempo of the race tonight, as it often the case in small field 2200m mobiles.
The potential tempo in the race could come from a rejuvenated Dance Time who is fit and will probably press forward so at least gives those settling off the speed a ray of hope they can close late.
But with draws and fitness taken into account big Kango is the one to beat.
While Mangos isn’t getting carried away with South Coast Arden he is confident about the debut of juvenile Aztec Shard (5) in race six.
He has won both his trials and showed gate speed in the second of them before sprinting his last 400m in 27.6 around Pukekohe so a performance of that level would make him hard to beat tonight.
“I think he is a Sires’ Stakes horse,” says Mangos.
“I’s also like to qualify him for the Jewels (Cambridge, June 6) and while it is never easy to win fresh up I think he is a good horse.”