FFA the chance for redemption
By Jonny Turner
The burning desire to make up for what could have been in the New Zealand Cup should set up a sensational early battle in today’s Junior Free-For-All at Addington.
Few came off the track after Cruz Bromac’s win in Tuesday’s feature with a more agonising hard luck story than the camp that races third placegetter Classie Brigade.
Driver John Dunn was seen desperately trying to find clear racing room for the 7yr-old trained by his father Robert.
Unfortunately, a gap only came after the horse’s winning hope evaporated before the driver’s eyes.
“There was a gap there nicely for him, but with Spankem not quite kicking like he usually does it closed on him,” Robert Dunn said.
“Johnny said he though the run was going to be nicely there for him and it closed as quick as it opened.”
John Dunn has already told the media this week that he has no plans to be behind any horse when the gate leaves for today’s 1980m sprint.
Trying to hold the lead from his ace barrier 1 draw is a plan wholeheartedly endorsed by his father.
“You can’t waste a good draw like barrier one and he has got great gate speed,” the trainer said.
“So he will be going forward and we will have to see what happens after that.”
Not being able to fully let down with his run on Tuesday suggests Classie Brigade should go in to today’s $200,000 feature without any hangover effect from the New Zealand Cup.
Dunn confirmed his stable have been thrilled with the way he has come through the race.
“He has pulled up super, we are really thrilled with him this week.”
Chase Auckland, who starts beside Classie Brigade in barrier 2, could lay claim to the New Zealand Cup’s second biggest hard luck story.
The pacer had clear air for all of the run home, but had make his finish wider than any horse in the race.
Both San Carlo and Mach Shard lost ground around the home turn, hindering Chase Auckland’s momentum and forcing him around them.
“Just the way the race ended up being run, we just didn’t get the brakes that we needed,” driver Tim Williams said.
“And when San Carlo got around to being parked that took away the option of going around there.”
The All Stars 5yr-old faces a massive turn around from the circumstances that put him back in the field in the New Zealand Cup, when moving from the unruly to barrier 2 today.
Chase Auckland will not only avoid having to give his rivals a head start, Williams will be able to make use of his blazing gate speed.
“It is an ideal draw for him with his gate speed and it is going to be a big help coming off the unruly to be on level terms,” the driver said.
“He seems to have pulled up well and he is probably fortunate the way the race was run on Tuesday that he didn’t have a real gut-buster.”
It will not just be the horse drawn beside him that could test Classie Brigade’s early speed and possibly cross him to lead.
New Zealand Cup runner-up Spankem gets the chance to show off the early zip that saw him lead and go on to win the Miracle Mile from barrier 7.
The cup winner Cruz Bromac, who led and won last year’s New Zealand Free-For-All, adds to the speed of the front line after drawing inside his stablemate in barrier 6.
Our Uncle Sam and AG’s White Socks could provide some early pressure if they were asked from barrier 3 and 5, respectively.
Nandolo (8) and Thefixer (9) look set to drift off the pace early from their wide draws.
The Robert Dunn trained Henry Hubert is also likely to bail out of the early burn despite drawing barrier 4.
“He has probably raced better over longer trips and I am just a bit weary that he doesn’t have that really high gate speed some of the others have,” Dunn said.
The 4yr-old thrilled his trainer with his effort for sixth on Tuesday when finishing just under two lengths from Cruz Bromac after the horse’s interrupted preparation for the race.
“If he hadn’t galloped around the first turn he would have been on Classie Brigade’s back and he might have been a chance.”