Stig could race until he’s 14 according to co-owner Jim Boyd. For now trainer Paul Nairn is just taking one race at a time with the 2012-2013 Trotter-of-the-Year. The 11-year-old gelding makes his return to racing at Addington This Friday night (September 6) in the $12,000 Sims Metals Handicap Trot. Stig will start from the 30m mark. “This will be his lead-up to the Ordeal Cup. He’s pretty sound at the moment. Any little niggles he’s had in the past certainly haven’t got any worse. “We’ve had no hiccups in his preparation so there’s no reason why he can’t carry on from where he left off last season. He’s certainly showing no signs of his age or soreness,” Nairn said. “And he’s still got that will to win which is encouraging,” he added. Nairn said Stig was in the same condition as what he was this time last year, but was starting his racing a month earlier. He said he would be better for the run but his natural talent would take him close to winning. The more seasoned fellow 30m back-markers The Fiery Ginga and Sovereignty will be toughest for Stig to beat. The son of Armbro Invasion started last season with a second behind Sovereignty at Addington on October 5 and then went on to win six of his 12 starts and $227,029 – including the Rowe Cup in May. Now the winner of 23 of his 53 starts and $816,486 Stig is looking to make amends of his second behind I Can Doosit in last year’s Dominion. His Hamilton based co-owner Boyd, who is renowned for writing and then singing a song about Stig after each of his victories, said he was set to put pen to paper again this season. “I wrote one when he won Trotter-of-the-Year and I also wrote one when he won the Rowe Cup. I’m getting one ready for the Dominion,” Boyd said. Nairn has won two Rowe Cups with Inspire in 2006 and Stig this year. He will have a three-pronged attack on the Group Ones this year with Dr Hook and Raydon also representing the stable. “Dr Hook is also coming along nicely and Raydon was sent to us from up north from Matt Hickey and is progressing well. We should see him at the end of the month,” Nairn said. As for another Australia mission with Stig, Nairn replied: “I’m playing that one by ear. There are not many 2700 races over there and he would have to line up in sprint races against much younger horses. “There’s also not as much money on offer over there for the trotters as what there is here. We’ll attack the Dominion and then head north for the racing at Alexandra Park and Cambridge again. We worry about Australia then,” Nairn said. As for Boyd: “I just want to keep writing songs about him,” Boyd said. Stig is also owned by Tim and Andrea Butt, Mrs R.I. Boyd, R.G. Thomas, and Mrs J.A. Gordon. He was bred by Jessleigh Harness Bloodstock. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)
Even without his two not-so-secret weapons trainer Robert Dunn is going into tonight’s Addington meeting with his trademark confidence. And he says punters should follow him with at least three winning chances. Dunn has come off the back of a record training season but has had to engage stand-in drivers tonight as his all-conquering sons Dexter and John are overseas. The pair drove over 300 winners between them last season but are holidaying in Hawaii after Dexter’s Breeders Crown triumph last Sunday with Bit Of A Legend. “They both deserve a break after last season but we still have business to take care of here,” says Dunn. That includes the stable’s open class star Mach Banner looking for his third win in his last four starts in the main pace at Addington tonight. After some easy winter kills he takes on more serious opponents in Four Starzzz Flash and Ohoka Texas tonight but has a huge race fitness edge over them. But even with that advantage, Dunn says he hopes stand-in driver Gavin Smith can secure cover with Mach Banner, rather than the front-running role which has proved so successful for him in the past. “I have been talking to John about it a lot and we are sure he is a better horse with a sit,” says Dunn. “And in a small field this wee we should get the chance to drive him like that. “He is flying in his work and he really should win again.” Four Starzzz Flash hinted on occasions last season that he is a genuine New Zealand Cup contender but his second at the Ashburton trials last week suggested he will need an outing or two to clean his lung out and trim up his amble belly. And Ohoka Texas is a prime example of a horse whose relentless racing style makes it hard to for him win when even slightly below peak fitness so Mach Banner should have the drop on them both. Later in the night Dunn steps Kotare Mahal well up in grade but after a recent hat-trick he says the four-year-old can keep winning. “I know this is a new level for him but he is a very good horse and I am confident he will handle the standing start so he hasn’t finished winning yet,” he offers. And he expects a big run from Comenche in race three where he has drawn well in a poor field. “He has been racing well in slightly better fields so he has to go close.” The other highlight of tonight’s meeting sees group one winning trotters Sovereignty and Stylish Monarch clash in race for their new trainers. Greg and Nina Hope are looking after the usually Cambridge-based Sovereignty until summer while former Dominion Handicap winner Stylish Monarch is now in the care of Margo Nyhan after being dogged by unsoundness. Up against last-start winner Thanesan and the omni-present The Fiery Ginga their race provides a rare winter taste of the big time. By Michael Guerin Harness Racing New Zealand
To win two races in a night and set an age group record you’ve got to be a Bit Of A Legend. But, believe it or not, that’s exactly what the ultra talented son of Bettor’s Delight did last night at Addington Raceway. After winning a non-tote heat of the Breeders Crown in what was nothing more than a bit of pace work followed by a sprint home (2-38.0, mile rate: 2-10.3, 800m: 61.1, 400m: 27.9), Bit Of A Legend came out two hours later and claimed the feature pace in a super time of 3-15.4, shaving 0.3 seconds off the previous 2600m 3YO record of Samuel James. "It was super really. It was just what we wanted as he'll have 20 days now until the Breeders semi," Dalgety said on his Kentuckiana Lodge website. As well as Bit Of A Legend’s two wins, Dalgety also had success with Safedra, who had a walkover win in a one horse ABC heat, and Abraxas, leaving him just four wins behind Mark Purdon in the premiership. Safedra was driven by John Dunn, leaving him just one shy of a season century. Other highlights at Addington included the return to winning form of Sovereignty and the running of the Darren DeFilippi Memorial Junior Drivers Challenge which was taken out by William Lance, who gave Matthew Williamson his third win in the race. Meanwhile, at Alexandra Park, Mac Tiger remarkably also claimed two wins for the day, although to be fair to Bit Of A Legend, his second win was in a one horse (walk) race. Still, he did win his first race in fine fashion. by Mitchell Robertson
Dr Hook, who was one of the five New Zealand trotters set to contest the $200,000 Glenferrie Farms Trans-Tasman Challenge, sent his Melbourne All Star harness racing handlers into a panic attack yesterday (Wednesday February 13) when he suffered a serious colic attack.
All eyes will be on the clock; as well as the star-studded three-year-old trotting line up that is, when Royal Aspirations and a number of other young talent's contest Saturday's (February 9) harness racing feature for the 3yo trotters-The Group Three Hambletonian Classic ($25,000).
Patumahoe-based harness racing trainer Geoff Small is considering whether to race Zenola Seelster and Jarcullembra close to home at Cambridge on Thursday night (October 11) or head to Christchurch for the Canterbury Classic the following day.
Sovereignty's stand-in driver, Robbie Holmes, believes the 8-year-old is one of the best trotters going around at present and will be tough to beat in next month's Group One Dominion Handicap.
Sir Lincoln. has suffered a minor viral-respiratory complaint and has been scratched from tonight's (October 5) feature harness racing event at Alexandra Park - the Trillian Trust Handicap.
John Dickie's reputation as one of New Zealand's best trainers of trotters was enhanced at northern harness racing headquarters - Alexandra Park - tonight (Friday September 16) when his 6-year-old mare, Great Getaway won fresh up after her Interdominion Grand Final seventh, on April 8.
For Charlie Hunter the most valuable treasure in the trophy cabinets at Alexandra Park has nothing to do with tonight's Interdominions. That great transtasman harness racing series culminates with an $800,000 pacing final and $250,000 final for the trotters, with Cambridge-based Hunter having a rare chance to repeat history.
"It's a conspiracy," joked the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club's chief executive officer, Shane Gloury. The former Aussie made that light hearted comment to Harnesslink after all of the Australians - barring four time champion Blacks A Fake - copped bad draws at the 2011 Inter Dominion barrier draw harness racing function held at Alexandra Park tonight (Monday April 4).
Master Clevedon harness racing trainer Barry Purdon has always believed in Raydon and tonight at Alexandra Park (Friday April 1) the 6-year-old gelding duly repaid that faith in the third trotters heat of the 2011 Inter Dominion Championship.
Cambridge harness racing trainer Sean McCaffrey could be New Zealand's secret weapon in the battle to stop an Australian monopoly of the Interdominions. In fact, he is more like a spy. The Cambridge trainer has perhaps New Zealand's best chance of winning either final on Friday week with Sovereignty, the second favourite for the $250,000 Trotting Final.
The changing of the guard took just 90 minutes on the opening night of the Interdominion harness racing carnival at Alexandra Park.
Up and coming Aussie harness racing squaregaiter Let Me Thru finalised the Australian domination at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday March 11) by winning the group Three City Of Sails FFA Trot. The son of Muscles Yankee worked hard outside the leader and stablemate Sundon's Gift, but still proved too good in the hands of Chris Lang JR.
The New Zealand TAB's harness racing bookmaker, Steve Richardson has installed Themightyquinn and Sundons Gift as the two favourites for the 2011 Interdominion Pacing and Trotting Championships at Addington Raceway in Christchurch from March 25 to April 8.