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The 4yr-old is second-up tomorrow in the $18,500 Geraldine Cup, after being tossed in the deep end at Addington on Show Day.
He was fifth to promising stayer Captain Dolmio on Show Day, which was challenging enough in a fresh state. But then again, this is the pacer who ran third to Lazarus in last year’s sires’ stakes final then third in the Alabar Classic, second in the Vero Flying Stakes and second a week later in the New Zealand Derby.
The job doesn’t get a heck of a lot easier for Classie Brigade today, taking on New Zealand Cup runners Quick As A Trick, Brilliant Strike and Mossdale Conner. Trainer Nigel McGrath said the entire was still building his fitness base.
"He got a nice run, but he just blew out, so hopefully he’ll take benefit from that and improve with it," McGrath said.
Classie Brigade had a long break before his Show Day run, long enough that McGrath got only one trial into the 4yr-old before his season debut.
"He was looking more like a show pony on Show Day. He has trimmed up since then but in saying that, he’s still on the up — he’s got a long season coming up — so I’m probably looking for a bit more improvement yet."
Classie Brigade won at Methven in October 2015 in his only crack on a grass track, although he is a race-day novice at a standing start.
"He’s never seen a stand before but I’ve given him a bit of practice at home and he seems OK. If he runs in the first three, I’ll be pretty chuffed."
McGrath said the result will decide whether he heads to Auckland with Classie Brigade or opts for features around Canterbury such as the Green Mile and the Ashburton Cup.
McGrath’s other Geraldine Cup runner, Maverick, is up against it off the back mark of 30m, starting alongside Mossdale Conner.
"He’s not really good from a stand either — he could probably put another 10m on that as well."
Tim Williams pairs up with the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained Stroke Of Luck in the 2850m feature. The 4yr-old has had three runs back, although Williams worries the quality behind him might be a little too rich.
"There are a couple in there dropping back from running in the [New Zealand] Cup, so 30m isn’t a very long way when you’re only an OK C4."
Williams is more positive about Augusta, who looks to have race 4 at his mercy provided he steps away.
"We took him to the workouts last week ideally to give him a stand to see if he would behave himself for this race. He was very safe without being quick, but I think he’s the sort of horse that if he does begin good enough, he can muster a bit of speed pretty quick, too.
"He’s pretty versatile and got a bit of game about him, so you would think he would foot himself pretty well in that sort of company."