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Champagne Cuddles claims Gold Coast Guineas to set up Group 1 campaign

By Glenn Davis

Brilliant Sydney filly Champagne Cuddles laid the platform for a big Group 1 winter campaign with a record breaking win in the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas on Saturday.

Ridden by Corey Brown, Champagne Cuddles wore down early leader Whypeeo to score by one length with Marble third, a further two lengths away.

Champagne Cuddles ran a sizzling 1min 07.65 seconds which shaved 0.3 seconds off the previous track record set by El Campio 10 years ago.

Trainer Bjorn Baker is unlikely to back-up Champagne Cuddles in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 next Saturday but has the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup at Doomben in three weeks and possibly the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap and Group 1 Tatt’s Tiara in mind.

“She’s a lovely filly with a great attitude and the last thing I said to Corey (Brown) before I legged him up was to enjoy it,” Baker said.

“She’s a top-class filly and you only have to look at her spring form to see that.

“There’s no more deserving filly. She’s got a massive ticker and a very big girth.”

Champagne Cuddles was having her first start after an unlucky spring campaign in Sydney.

She was placed in three Group 2 races before finishing second in the Group 1 Golden Rose and Group 1 Flight Stakes behind star sprinters Trapeze Artist and Alizee respectively.

The win continued Baker’s great success in Queensland after winning the Magic Millions Classic with Unencumbered in 2014 and 2016 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 with Music Magnate.

Earlier Newcastle trainer Kris Lees collected a $25,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle as a prize for winning the Listed Bat Out Of Hell with Guard Of Honour.

Lees had commitments interstate and missed Guard Of Honour prove too strong for Snoopy in the 900-metre dash.

Guard Of Honour was ridden by big-race jockey Damian Browne who had the four-year-old travelling midfield on the fence before pouncing on the leaders in the straight.

It was Browne’s 1000th career winner in Australia.

Guard Of Honour went on to down Snoopy by three-quarters of a length with the Tony Gollan-trained Tiyatrolani producing a huge effort to finish third off his outside gate, a half length away.

Gold Coast trainer Mel Eggleston represented Lees who was confident Guard Of Honour could atone for his previous second at the Sunshine Coast last month.

“Kris was always very confident,” Eggleston said.

“Things didn’t go right for him last time but the way he’s been working Kris was very confident of winning.

“What a big race rider is Damian Browne. It was only a 900-metre race but he just doesn’t panic.”

Guard Of Honour’s win was his fifth in 15 starts.

Racing Queensland webnews   May 5