Southern Icon back in winning mood
‘‘He's not the easiest horse to work – he likes to do things his way.’’
Southern Icon has never lacked talent but things have not always gone his way.
At Te Rapa on Saturday, however, he left no doubts that he’s back to his best when he easily accounted for a smart field of open sprinters. That was his first start since the autumn and the win came as a great relief to connections after a virus had undermined much of his last campaign.
When Southern Icon won the same race 12 months ago, his trainer Alan Tait set a programme taking in the first flat feature of the new season, the Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate, back at Te Rapa in mid-August. The virus ruled that and other races out, but Alan, who trains Southern Icon for his wife Gaylene and stable stalwart Mike Collinson, now has the $100,000 race firmly back in his sights.
Saturday’s win, which took his tally to eight from 27 starts, came as a relief to his trainer for more than one reason.
‘‘He’s not the easiest horse to work – he likes to do things his way – and he has me guessing when it comes to getting a line on him,’’ Alan explained after the Te Rapa performance.
‘‘But lately when I’m still trying to pull him up when we get to the end of the back straight, I’ve been thinking he’s going back to the races in pretty good order.’’
Despite the dominant performance, Alan expressed his doubts that 1200 metres is ideally suited to Southern Icon’s racing style.
‘‘If you look at his overall record at 1200 metres – what was this, his second win from 12 starts? – I’m not so sure he’s a straight out sprinter. He always takes that first couple of furlongs to get to the front, so I really think he’s more effective at 1400.’’
Southern Icon kicks of a new campaign in winning style at Te Rapa on Saturday.