Draw a big advantage to Classie Brigade in the Free-For-All
Following his big run for third in Tuesday's New Zealand Trotting Cup, Classie Brigade has been thrown a big advantage in today's Free-For-All, coming up with the coveted inside barrier over the 1980m. Stablemate Henry Hubert, which also produced a massive run in the cup, is well placed coming out of barrier four, while the All Stars pair that quinellaed the cup, will need to overcome wide barriers.
John was absolutely rapt with the runs of the stable pair in Tuesday's cup and will look to use today's draw positively with his drive Classie Brigade, which can really get off the gate when asked. Whether he leads, or chooses to take a trail, as the Cup again proved on Tuesday, the inside is the best place to be in a sternly run race. The first four home in that race, all came from lead to four back on the inside.
Classie Brigade now seems right back to his best form that he showed as a four year old and there should be no problems for him in backing up today.
Henry Hubert went super for us in the cup also. Coming off an interrupted build up, he did a superb job to run sixth, but under two lengths from the winner Cruz Bromac. He came from an impossible position, after being six back on the inside most of the way. His closing 800m and 400m sectionals, were the equal of anything in the race. Driver Gavin Smith commented that he came to the end of his run 50m out, which is understandable considering his lack of race day edge.
Henry Hubert has always looked destined to compete at the very highest level and a sprint trip such as today, should be right up his alley, providing he is able to get a handy position early. There is sure to be plenty of pace coming over from out wide, with both Spankem (Miracle Mile) and Cruz Bromac (Free-For-All 2018) being proven performers against the best over the sprint trip. It is sure to be a cracking race.
The other Group One feature today is the Airpark Canterbury Dominion Handicap over the 3200m. Our two runners are Valloria and Woodstone.
Valloria has been conistent all through his spring campaign. A last start 4th behind Habibi Inta at Kaikoura, he perhaps lacks the absolute class of some in this field, but is incredibly honest, with great manners. In today's big field, that may come in very handy and it is a race that in the past has thrown up some really big longshot winners. Hopefully it may be again today that is repeated, although the connections would be stoked were he to run in the money.
Woodstone ran in the Group One trot on Tuesday, but from his wide draw was never really able to get into the race. He is a much better horse than that and with the reliable hands of Bob Butt to steer him around today, he can be a factor in the race. If he is able to produce more of the runs that saw him twice placed behind Oscar Bonavena in lead-up races, then he would not be the worst hope to run in the money today.
Oscar Bonavena and Marcoola have been the wow horses over the spring and as the tote indicates, most people expect today to be dominated by the pair. Marcoola will need to step safely from his inside barrier, while Oscar Bonavena will need to safely navigate a path from his spot on the unruly.
These two features should be outstanding races as they always are. All the best to the team.
Posted: Fri 15 Nov 2019