Class-ie act step­ping up

The Press - - Racing - MAT KERMEEN

‘‘Af­ter his first start back, I was wor­ried be­cause some­times they don’t come back at four, but he’s re­ally start­ing to show that form he showed at three. Nigel McGrath

Classie Brigade’s me­te­oric rise through the open class pac­ing ranks will face its tough­est ex­am­i­na­tion to date on Fri­day night.

The Bet­tor’s De­light en­tire is still prob­a­bly best known as the horse who would trail home Lazarus and Heaven Rocks to pick up a trio of Group I plac­ings as a three-year-old.

But with four wins from his last four starts, the smart pacer is start­ing to write his own script, with him­self as the lead. Trained by Nigel McGrath, Classie Brigade looks a ma­jor win­ning chance in the Group III Sum­mer Cup at Ad­ding­ton.

The Wee­dons-based trainer knows Classie Brigade has the abil­ity to win, but he is not ooz­ing con­fi­dence. He said the race is a step up, but there is now nowhere to hide as a c8 pacer.

‘‘It’s a re­ally good field and I think there a num­ber of horses in there that could win it,’’ McGrath said.

Classie Brigade’s last start win, in the Group III In­ver­cargill Trot­ting Cup, where he de­feated many of the run­ners he clashes with on Fri­day night, came in a blis­ter­ing time of 3:53.5 for the 3200m.

McGrath said Classie Brigade was a lit­tle flat for a day or two fol­low­ing the gut busting run back in Jan­uary, but he is now bright and has been work­ing well. Classie Brigade’s first few runs back this sea­son, fol­low­ing an in­tense three­year-old sea­son, were down on his bril­liant best. ‘‘Af­ter his first start back, I was wor­ried be­cause some­times they don’t come back at four, but he’s re­ally start­ing to show that form he showed at three,’’ McGrath said.

If he can hold his cur­rent form in the Sum­mer Cup, Classie Brigade will earn a start in the Group I Easter Cup and two more Group I starts at Alexandra Park. At this stage Classie Brigade will head to Auck­land for four-year-old races the Mes­sen­ger and Tay­lor Mile fol­low­ing the Easter Cup.

‘‘He’s owned in Auck­land so it would be nice to see him up there,’’ McGrath said.

The long term plan also in­volves miss­ing the Har­ness Jew­els and head­ing to the paddock to pre­pare for the New Zealand Trot­ting Cup, but McGrath re­in­forced that the plan is not set in con­crete.

The pre­vi­ous six edi­tions of the Sum­mer Cup have all been won by gen­uine top-lin­ers with Lochar­burn, Bor­der Con­trol, Smolda, Ter­ror To Love, De Lovely and Mon­key King.

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