Day At The Track

Maxim steps up

09:54 AM 13 Apr 2017 NZST
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Pukekohe horseman Brent Mangos
Brent Mangos trainer of Maxim
Duane Ranger photo

Maxim is going to tell trainer Brent Mangos something on Saturday night.

Because where the heroic comeback pacer finishes in the $100,000 Easter Cup could determine his pathway for next season.

Maxim has been one of the stories of the harness racing season, the former Victoria Derby winner who was sidelined for a remarkable three years before returning for new trainer Mangos.

He was sent the horse by Barry Purdon so Maxim could be swum regularly to ease pressure on his troublesome legs and Mangos has worked the miracle, the now six-year-old having won three of his four starts since his huge break.

But now Maxim heads back into the big time, against four other Group One winners, two NZ Cup placegetters and Classie Brigade, who holds the second fastest 3200m winning time in New Zealand history.

It is a steep jump in class and could determine whether Maxim is set for a New Zealand Cup campaign or something a level easier.

“I know he is up to them,” says Mangos.

“He won very well last week at Alex Park and while he only went 2:41, he could have gone 2:38 (for 2200m mobile).

“And it is not even that. He just feels like a good horse should.

“So I can see him running in three this week, maybe even better because he will keep going no matter what the speed.”

Mangos admits what all punters know, if the best version of freakish talent Heaven Rocks turns up on Saturday night he may have too much x-factor for even a field of this class.

But while it took Lazarus to beat him last start, Heaven Rocks may not be ideally suited by the field configuration as he is on the front line but unruly with some fast beginners on the 10m handicap mark.

Not only will that give the mammoth pacer little room to move early but the added threat of horses rushing up behind him early.

It may not matter and if he is able to behave then he might simply be too special.

“A horse like him would be very hard to beat but if his manners see him settle a little way off us then horses like my fella and Captain Dolmio will roll along and make it hard for the others.”

As good as Maxim is, and he looks serious open class material, he is not proven at that level yet whereas Franco Nelson and Titan Banner are.

Franco Nelson almost won Adore Me’s New Zealand Cup two years ago and is a high class stayer with great manners who is well placed under Saturday’s handicaps.

So he looks the best value to upset Heaven Rocks, while Titan Banner was third in this season’s New Zealand Cup and was massive at Alexandra Park in December so is another worthy of respect in a wonderfully put together field, in which almost any of the nine could win without stunning.

A surprise entry for the Cup is Piccadilly Princess as trainer Mark Purdon tries to earn around $5000 more dollars with her domestically this season to assure her place in the Harness Jewels come June.

Her stablemate Golden Goddess races in a $13,000 race on Saturday for the same reason, needing to earn around $18,000 in the next six weeks to make the Jewels because she has no earnings that count toward the Jewels this season.

“There aren’t many races for them and Golden Goddess in particular needs to win some money soon,” says Purdon.

The stable will dominate betting on the two-year-old pace on Saturday, with Spankem certain to be odds on after his easy win in last Friday’s Welcome Stakes.

One of the heartening factors at Saturday’s meeting is the capacity field with some genuine talent in the juvenile Trotting Stakes, with the two-year-old crop looking one of the more advanced in recent years.

 

Michael Guerin

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