Day At The Track

No suprises here

12:00 PM 28 Apr 2017 NZST
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Habibti Ivy
HRNZ photo

Paul Nairn has stopped being surprised by Habibti Ivy.

So the training genius won’t raise an eyebrow if his mare competes one of the great comebacks in trotting history in the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup tonight.

The former Oaks winner has returned from the racing wilderness --- nearly 22 months sidelined by injury --- to won all five of her races this campaign including last Friday’s Anzac Cup.

So she heads to Alexandra Park tonight as favourite for Rowe, victory in which would secure her the valuable trotting mate of the year award.

Nairn, whose old school and often wide-ranging training techniques have brought him amazing results, admits the Habibti Ivy comeback has shocked him.

“When you bring them back after that long away you don’t know what to expect,” he says.

“But I definitely didn’t expect this. Not national records and group one wins.

“Especially last week. I was sure she was underdone heading into that race because she got tangled in a fence a few weeks ago and lost some skin off her legs.

“So to keep going and win when she probably wasn’t at her peak was a big performance.

“Really, with that in mind, you would have to think she would improve again and now I wouldn’t be surprised if she won.”

Habibti Ivy may only be a five-year-old with 14 starts on her slate but she has an ideal draw tonight and the manners to use it.

She should lead or be handy early and with a rival like Bordeaux able to set up a fast 3200m, being on the marker pegs not covering any extra ground could be crucial.

Bordeaux was excellent with sixth after being wide in the Anzac Cup and appeals as a top each way chance tonight while one of the more proven group one trotters in the race is Quite A Moment.

She was second to her champion stablemate Monbet in the national record Dominion over 3200m at Addington in November and then downed Bordeaux in the 2700m mobile National Trot here in December, so a true staying test will hold no fears for her.

Quite A Moment looked down on he best when she returned from her Australian summer campaign but trainer Greg Hope believes a change of training regime will see her prominent tonight.

“I have lightened her work load to keep her fresher and I think we saw some benefit of that at Addington last start when she was a big second,” says Hope.

“We know she will handle the distance and she is as good as these horses when you take her formline through our other fella (Monbet) but I would have preferred a front line draw.”

The absence of the big guns promotes an array of horses up to being serious chances, with the four-year-olds Lemond, Temporale and Wilma’s Mate all having the raw ability to win while even the sometimes disappointing Daryl Boko flashed home last Friday like a horse who could win tonight.

The Rowe Cup is the highlight of a stunning night on which Lazarus looks certain to end his super season with a formulaic Messenger victory over stablemate Waikiki Beach.

The All Stars look to dominate the $150,000 Sires’ Stakes Fillies, with Elle Mac the best of their trio but the worst drawn, bringing the likes of Shanandoah, A Lister and star trialist New York Rain into play.

But Hope, who is starting to rival Nairn as one of the supremos of New Zealand trotting, expects another faultless performance from Enghien to win the Trotting Derby, with President Roydon the emerging threat in that age group.

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