Plenty of big guns at today's North Canterbury trials

By Michael Guerin

A trial resembling a mini-New Zealand Cup at Rangiora today (2.45pm) should tell northern trainer Brent Mangos where South Coast Arden is at on the road to the great race.

The IRT NZ Cup at Addington is less than seven weeks away and for all the heroics of pacers like Copy That, Akuta and Alta Wiseguy so far this spring, many of the biggest names in the industry meet in a simple trial at Rangiora.

It contains the meat of the NZ Cup field with Self Assured, Spankem, South Coast Arden, Stylish Memphis, former Jewels winner B D Joe and one of last season’s biggest improvers Cranbourne.

Most are using today to prepare for their comeback races at Addington on Friday week and they include the really big guns: last season alone they won the Auckland Cup and The Race by Grins (Self Assured), the NZ Free-For-All (South Coast Arden) and the Taylor Mile (Spankem).

Self Assured and Spankem already pleased trainer Mark Purdon with their first trial back last week but South Coast Arden missed his first scheduled public workout because of rain so trainer-driver Mangos says today will give him a good gauge on where he stands and what is needed next.

“About two weeks ago his coat hadn’t come through and he was a bit behind but he has really come on since we brought him south,” says Pukekohe-based Mangos.

“This is a very strong trial and I think we are in for a very strong Cup. When you add Copy That and maybe an Aussie or two and then horses like Akuta and some of the others, it is going to be a deep Cup.”

Mangos knows that means South Coast Arden will need to return to his red-hot form of last season if he is going to be competitive this spring.

“I think he can but this trial will bring him on a lot and tell us where we stand.

“And then he will race next week and probably in the Methven Cup and Ashburton Flying Stakes.”

South Coast Arden will start on the unruly off a 20m handicap today and while Mangos expects him to be a touch nervous in his first few standing start outings he will see how his manners progress before he considers taking him off the unruly, something which could be crucial to his Cup chances.

Also trialling today will be champion trotter Sundees Son returning off 40m in the main trot trial (2.30pm).


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