Derby path continues for Antrim Coast

Antrim Coast continued his upward Derby trajectory on Saturday, despite having to settle for second in the Listed Galilee Series Final (2400m) at Caulfield.

ANTRIM COAST winning the DCE Alister Clark Stakes
ANTRIM COAST winning the DCE Alister Clark Stakes Picture: Colin Bull / Sportpix

The Stephen Marsh-trained three-year-old finished second behind Orchestral in the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March and franked that form with a tough victory in the Gr.3 Alistair Clark Stakes (2040m) over Kiwi filly Quintessa at The Valley.

Antrim Coast  lined-up on Saturday at much shorter odds, but came off second-best to fellow Kiwi-bred Gold Wolf, going down by a head.

Marsh was pleased with the gelding's performance but admitted that pressure was placed too soon in a testing 2400m contest.

"I thought he went super, I couldn't have asked for any better from him," Marsh said.

"The rider was very apologetic, he just went so far from home and needed to be a lot more patient. We feel he would've been very hard to beat, but he was probably travelling so well that he's gone for him too early.

"But he's come through it really well, he's right on track for the South Australian Derby. He's always been a laid-back horse, takes everything in his stride and loves it. He's the ultimate racehorse."

Antrim Coast is now set to represent his owner-breeder, Dick Karreman of The Oaks Stud, in the $1 million Gr.1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on May 4, a race won by New Zealand-breds for the last three years.

Back home, Marsh collected black-type placings at Trentham with Provence, who was a close-up second in the Listed Flying Handicap (1400m), and Skyman, who finished third in the Gr.2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2100m).

A daughter of Savabeel, Provence has risen rapidly through the grades since breaking maiden status fresh-up in late-December, picking up three victories before surging into runner-up position behind Bradman in her black-type debut.

"She ran really well, just probably wanted a better track. Sam (Spratt, jockey) said she couldn't quite sprint as well as she thought she could've, but she's gone terrific," Marsh said.

"She definitely needed time, she's come back a lot better as a four-year-old and has come a long way in one season. It wasn't that long ago she was a maiden and now she's running in good black-type races.

"She'll go to Ellerslie for the Easter Handicap (Gr.3, 1600m) now, where she's won before, and it's a beautiful track so it should suit her a lot more.

"She'll only get better from here, she might be one of those horses you see in good weight-for-age races next season."

In his first season under Marsh's care, Mukhadram gelding Skyman has contested five Group races in as many starts, with Saturday's effort capping off fourth and fifth placings in the Gr.1 Bonecrusher Stakes (2000m) and Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) respectively.

Marsh was pleased with his front-running performance, leading up to the 200m mark, and fighting on bravely to fill the minor placings behind Nereus and He's A Doozy.

"He also ran really nicely, Sam just said he wants a good firm track," he said.

"He'll go out for a spell now and we'll see a really nice horse next season getting to those better tracks. I'm really happy with how he's performed this campaign."

Marsh's black-type bridesmaid streak was rectified in the undercard at Pukekohe, with victories from both Billy Lincoln and Lerado. 

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