By Jonny Turner
Trainer Robert Dunn hopes Classie Brigade begins so quickly he sees a flash of red, white and black silks in what is set to be a crucial beginning to today’s New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington.
The eight-year-old veteran will carry his trainer’s diamond emblazoned colours when he seeks redemption in the 3200m feature following an agonisingly unlucky third placing in last year’s event.
To win, Classie Brigade will need to become the first horse since Flashing Red in 2007 to carry the number 18 saddlecloth to victory.
After being stuck with the draw no other camp would have wanted, fans and pundits quickly started writing off the pacer’s chances of redemption.
But there is one crucial factor they may be forgetting.
If the New Zealand Cup’s three emergencies come out as expected, Classie Brigade and driver John Dunn will line up on the second row behind Robyns Playboy and Craig Ferguson.
And there are few better spots to be for the five horses forced to start off the second line to be in, given the lightning beginnings the Southland pacer has been making recently.
“If Robyns Playboy begins quickly Classie Brigade might be able to get through pretty quickly himself,” Robert Dunn said
“And he might end up settling a lot handier than a lot of people think.”
With barrier draws and the standing start ability of their rivals out of their hands, the Dunn camp have been concentrating on what is within their control with Classie Brigade.
After producing a New Zealand record and an excellent Kaikoura Cup win in his last two starts, they could not be happier with their horse’s condition.
Combine that with Classie Brigade’s record over 3200m and it explains why the Dunn camp is not losing faith in their horse ahead of today’s race.
“We are very happy with him going into the race,” Dunn said
“His record is over 3200m is phenomenal, he ran 3.53 when he won the Invercargill Cup.”
“Which on a track like that is exceptional.”
“And he ran 3.56 in last year’s cup and he was strong to the line after being held up at the top of the straight.”
Dunn has a three-strong attack on this year’s New Zealand Cup with Heisenberg and Henry Hubert starting alongside Classie Brigade.
Henry Hubert was less than two lengths behind Cruz Bromac in sixth placing in last year’s race for driver Gavin Smith.
Though his form does not show it, the six-year-old, who is set to start from barrier 7 on the front line, comes into this year’s race after enjoying a much better preparation.
“He had a very interrupted preparation last year, he missed races and we didn’t think we were even going to make the cup.”
“And he went a great race and was less than two lengths from the winner.”
“This year he has had a much better preparation and we are expecting him to go a good race.”
Heisenberg will step up to race in his first New Zealand Cup for Dunn when he lines up from barrier 2 for driver Ricky May
That starting spot should give the five-year-old every chance to get into his favoured position close to the pace.
“He has had one start over two miles (3200m) and he won it,” Dunn said
“He will go a good race, he definitely won’t get in the way.”
Dunn has a massive team of 28 horses nominated for New Zealand Cup Day.
Singling out just one horse as his best chance was impossible for the Woodend Beach trainer, who has high hopes across the 13-race Addington card.
“We have a few good chances, Steel The Show should go a great race.”
“Mighty Looee is going really well and Ned Kelly could be a sneaky chance in the maiden race.”
“Bryan Boru should be a good chance in his race and one horse that has been going well but hasn’t had a lot of luck is Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon.”