South Coast Arden's assault on the A$1million Miracle Mile is over before he even got to take his first public steps toward the great race.
Trainer Brent Mangos says the restrictions on travel between Australia and New Zealand simply made getting staff and even a driver back and forth across the Tasman too difficult, so after meeting with the gelding's connections they have changed their targets.
"It is a real shame as it was a race I was looking forward to going after," says Mangos.
He has earlier labelled the Miracle Mile as the race he would like to win most with South Coast Arden after he won the New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington in November.
"It has simply got too tough. If somebody went with him to look after him they can't come back until at least March and there is no guarantee they would get back then.
"And if I or anybody else from here wanted to go drive him in the lead-up races they also face being stuck there.
"So we really don't have much option but to stay home and tackle the good races here."
Mangos says the miss-the-mile decision has been made a lot easier by the restructuring of the New Zealand harness racing calendar which could see South Coast Arden and horses of his class race for $1.6million in stakes in the next few months.
"The Auckland Cup will be a logical target for him and I'd hope either his connections might buy a slot in The Race at Cambridge or they can secure one.
"Really, it is the race that might become our Miracle Mile."
The new $900,000 slot race will be held on April 14 with Cambridge already having a large number of expressions of interest.
South Coast Arden will resume in public at the Pukekohe workouts this weekend and go again the weekend after before possibly racing at Cambridge in the $20,000 Cambridge Classic on January 27.
That could see him take on Self Assured, who he beat in their stirring NZ Free-For-All battle during Cup, with both pacers being aimed at the free-for-all at Alexandra Park on February 12, the new Harness Million meeting.
Self Assured is another not heading to Australia for the same reasons as South Coast Arden and with Copy That out injured, the three best pacers in New Zealand will be absent from Australia's best races like the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile in the next two months.
That leaves Krug, who will chase a Miracle Mile spot via the Chariots of Fire in Sydney on February 19 and Stylish Memphis, who could make the Miracle Mile again if she defends her Ladyship Mile title on February 26, as the most likely Kiwi contenders for Australia's richest race.
Last week champion trotter Sundees Son also pulled out of his Victorian campaign because of Covid travel restrictions.