Back where he left off

By Michael Guerin

After 13 months in the harness racing wilderness Classie Brigade is back where he left off --- trying to beat Buster Brady.

The forgotten horse of the open class scene returns at Alexandra Park tonight after over a year on the sidelines with mystery lameness.

“He has had every test known to man and we still don’t know what was wrong with him,” admits trainer Nigel McGrath.

“But the main thing is he is fine now and ready to race.

“He has had a long slow build up, done a heap of swimming and had three workouts.

“Obviously nothing gets them as fit as racing and the small field could be tricky but he is ready to go well. But the tactics and tempo of the race could decide things.”

Classic Brigade is in tonight’s last race at Alexandra Park to prepare for a $40,000 Uncut Gems race next week, a kind of Jewels consolation race which is a very juicy carrot on the relatively bare winter landscape.

Tonight he finds himself against a familiar foe. When Classic Brigade last raced 13 months ago he ran fourth to Buster Brady in the Winter Cup, the start before he just beat him home. And the pair look set to dominate again tonight.

Buster Brady is now trained by Barry Purdon and has an obvious fitness edge tonight and with the race only having four starters, whichever of the two favourites is able to dictate to the other will probably win.

But while that fitness edge means there probably shouldn’t be much between the pair in the market, on sheer class Classie Brigade is the better horse.

A race earlier former Jewels winner One Over Da Moon faces an interesting challenge in the main trot, having to overcome a 40m handicap over 2200m, something very few horses have accomplished at Alexandra Park.

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