Group 1 racing returns to Alexandra Park tonight

By Michael Guerin

Trainer Steven Reid has come up with a simple plan to win tonight’s $110,000 Caduceus Club Classic with Coastal Babe as Group 1 racing returns to Alexandra Park.

“I am going to give Matty (White, driver) the reins and tell him to do whatever he wants,” says Reid.

While that might sound a little vague heading into the first huge race of the juvenile fillies pacing season, Reid says it is too early in Coastal Babe’s career for her to have a definitive racing style or know where she sits in the fillies pecking order.

With the harness racing group racing season now basically divided into two four-months blocks at either end of the year with winter in between, the fillies who were the stars in March have to ward off those who develop and emerge in spring.

Coastal Babe is one of the latter, her gutsy last-start win at Cambridge over many of those she meets tonight suggesting she can win again.

“She was very tough that night but when you look at her you can see she is still maturing,” says Reid.

“She has come a really long way in the last three months but from barrier 6 ths week I don’t know if the best thing is to go forward and drive her like a good filly or look after her early knowing she has so much more in front of her.

“So I will leave it up to Matty. If she feels good behind the gate (mobile starting arm) then he might roll forward as she was so brave last start.

“But that also depends on what the ones inside him are doing and you can only judge that out on the track.”

As good as Coastal Babe was winning at Cambridge third-placed Kiss was enormous after being three wide for the last lap and she might be the best of the fillies at this very early stage.

She looks a real stayer who will appreciate the step up to 2200m tonight.

Tonight’s race buries the nonsense notion of “visitor’s draws” as the three Canterbury fillies in the race have drawn the inside three barrier draws with Treacherous Baby perhaps the best placed to take advantage.

She lost ground on the bend against a smart male juvenile in Vessem on debut but came again late for fourth and showed enough gate speed to suggest she can use the ace draw tonight.

The Group 1 may be the richest race of the night but the Spring Cup boasts the biggest names as Copy That tries to put his New Zealand Cup defence back on track after a shock defeat to Hooray Henry here last Thursday.

His trainer Ray Green had warned punters the $2million earner was “podgy” going into last week’s race but he was beaten fair and square and tonight he has to give Hooray Henry and his other rivals a 20m start over 2200m.

The small field should ensure he gets his chance but an interesting newcomer is Nicholas Cage, a powerful front runner who has beaten both Copy That and Akuta when leading them in a sprint race at The Park so will be hard to catch if he begins quickly in his first standing start.

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