Stig on track for repeat success

11:04 AM 30 Dec 2013 NZDT
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Stig
Stig

Old crocks who have placed only once in their last seven starts hardly make attractive group one betting prospects - unless they are Stig.

The amazing veteran returns to his favourite track at something approaching his favourite distance in the $80,000 National Trot tomorrow and it will take a very good horse to beat him.

The last time Stig graced Alexandra Park he bolted away with the Rowe Cup, reminding us that when he is sound and can grind to run the sprint out of his rivals over extreme distances even he forgets how old he is.

He did exactly that in this very race last year, downing a true champ in I Can Doosit in national record time.

So the question tomorrow isn't whether 11-year-old Stig is good enough, but is he happy and sound enough?

"I think so," says trainer Paul Nairn, who knows Stig better than most people know their partners.

 

"He has had his issues one way or another this season and he can sometimes struggle over the shorter trips but I think he will love the distance.

"And he will be better than he was at Cambridge last week. I worked him with Dr Hook here on Saturday and I was happier with him than I have been in a while."

Stig has always loved Alexandra Park and Nairn expects a no-nonsense approach from driver David Butt. "Once he has settled I'd like to see him in front because that is how he races best."

As good as Stent was at Cambridge last Tuesday, if he can give Stig a start and a beating over a hard-run 2700m he will have gone to a new level because the old horse simply outstayed him last time they clashed over 3200m in the Dominion Handicap last month.

That was Stig's only placing this season, showing he may now be a one-trick pony. But what a wonderful, courageous trick it is.

The TAB has opened Stent the $2.30 favourite, with Stig very backable at $3.80 and Irish Whisper at $6.50.

Nairn goes into tomorrow with two other last-start winners who can repeat, including the lower-grade trotting find of the summer in Any Old Way.

He has bolted in twice in as many starts since coming north and meets a weakish field in the first race, considering he is a future Derby contender.

"I thought Love Ya Doosie could be tough if she trotted all the way but my fella has really thrived with the racing," says Nairn.

"He is pretty good."

Lotalov will give Harness Jewels winner Prime Power plenty to chase in race three tomorrow provided she can get in front of him, which depends on how quickly Prime Power begins as he can really make a flyer.

Superbowlcheerleader has cost punters plenty lately but is another contender if she mends her manners in one of several great support races.

 

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