Day At The Track

Classie Invercargill Cup!

06:30 PM 28 Jan 2017 NZDT
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Classie Brigade,Harness racing
Classie Brigade after winning the Invercargill Cup
Bruce Stewart

The 3-53.5 posted by Ascot Park Invercargill Cup winner Classie Brigade today has only been bettered once in this country and it was by champion harness racing pacer Lazarus when he won last years New Zealand Cup.

The race lived up to it's billing as being a possible record breaker and when Captain Dolmio was taken to the lead we all knew that his driver John Dunn was going to make it a stayers race, but to this record breaking degree we had no idea. 

When judge Bruce Young announced the time we were all aghast. What a race. 

Blair Orange after winning his sixth Invercargill Cup, "They get faster and faster every week really. Nigel (trainer Nigel McGrath) had him (Classie Brigade) in super form. He got a lovely run and the horse did the rest," said driver . 

Winning driver Blair Orange                                              - Photo Bruce Stewart.

In the early rush Orange settled Classie Brigade in sixth place as Motu Premier took the early lead before handing up to Captain Dolmio. When Ears Burning came forward to take up the parked position Classie Brigade got onto his back in the one one. Christen Me then came forward with 1200 metres to run leaving Classie Brigade two back on the outside.

Inside the last 800 metres John Dunn started to wind up the speed dial. At the 600, Orange decided it was time to move and he sent Classie Brigade forward. He'd reached Captain Dolmio's wheel inside the last 300 metres and these two great stayers knuckled down in the epic finish with Classie Brigade beating a game Captain Dolmio by half a length. Maverick, a stable mate of the winner was a further three and three quarter lengths back in third.

Classie Brigade winning the battle in the Invercargill Cup - Photo Bruce Stewart

"He hit the front and just knocked off. He had every reason to be tired. He's run a very strong two miles." 

So it's the second fastest 3200m ever run in New Zealand and a new race, track and Southland record. The only one to better it is champion pacer Lazarus, which won the New Zealand Cup last year in 3-53.1.

The winning mile rate today, was 1-57.4. The last 800 metres was timed in front at 55.3 and the last 400 was run in 26.5. Classie Brigade ran his last 800 metres in 53.9.

Under normal circumstances the time for most of the runners today would have been good enough to win this race. 

The previous race and Southland record was held by Franco Ledger. He recorded 3-58.7 when he won the 2013 cup. 

Special mention must be given to John Dunn and Captain Dolmio who set up this sensational time only to come up short by a half a length. As people were saying afterwards this was an Addington, New Zealand Cup time and Captain Dolmio is destined to run in the great race some year soon.

Classie Brigade is heading in that direction too. He's now a C7 horse and won't be out of place in the higher grade. 

"He's taken it all before at two and three and I think he can do it at four. Every dog fight is going to be a battle. He's a very versatile horse and a pleasure to sit behind." 

Today's Invercargill Cup will go down as one of the greatest in modern times. 

Classie Brigade winning the battle in the Invercargill Cup

Bruce Stewart
Southland Harness Racing

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