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Paul Nairn is running out of time to get defending champion Habibi Inta to the Dominion at Addington in two weeks. So much so that unless he is able to be fast worked by this coming Tuesday, Nairn believes he will miss Cup week. Habibi Inta is out of Monday’s South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura after a mystery hock problem with very poor timing. The outstanding trotter has swelling around his joints but not actual issues with the joints themselves but Nairn’s vet is suggesting he doesn’t fast work the big trotter until the swelling goes down. With Habibi Inta having only had one race this campaign he is quickly running out of work days to build his fitness for the Dominion on November 13. “We had his hocks treated recently and it is almost like he has had a reaction to that,” says Nairn. “The actual joints are fine but there is swelling or maybe even fluid around them and until that goes down I won’t be fast working him.” Last year’s win in the Dominion showed just how rugged the race can be as Habibi Inta distanced his rivals after sitting off a solid speed so Nairn knows he can’t go into the race at anything less than peak fitness. “I am still hopeful of getting there but he hasn’t been fast worked this week and unless he is back fast working by Tuesday I’d say we will struggle to get him to the Dominion.” Nairn says even if the Dominion is not an option Habibi Inta is unlikely to change plans and head to the NZ Free-For-All on NZ Cup Day.   by Michael Guerin

Paul Nairn knew when David Butt sent him a horse to train it must have been pretty good. “Davey wouldn’t bother otherwise,” says the master trainer. Judging by the form of Maria Tsarina the last two Fridays at Addington both Nairn and Butt were right. The five-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill has made it two wins from as many starts in Nairn’s stable and he says she isn’t finished yet. “I think she can win her way through to close to the top grade,” says Nairn. “I knew she must be all right when Davey sent her here. She had won two for him but she had just being trotting a bit rough while he was bringing her up this time in. “But I didn’t change much when I got her. I just mucked around with her shoes in front and she was good to go.” When she remained unbeaten for Nairn at Addington last Friday, Maria Tsarina trotted her last 800m in 58 seconds in holding out The Player, both indicating she can keep winning in the intermediate grade. But Nairn says there is still work to do. “She still trots a bit rough, she strikes herself high on her shin near the hock. You could see it affecting her the other night on the home bend last Friday. “So I will have to try and find a way to work on that. “But if we can sort that out she has a big future.” That trait means Maria Tsarina won’t be back at Addington this Friday as that home bend striking of her leg has left it a touch swollen, meaning she can have the week off. In a different vein of form in the same race was last season’s NZ Trotting Derby winner Lotamuscle, who Nairn admits is puzzling him with his form. “He is obviously better than that but he isn’t showing it at the moment.” His little two-year-old brother Bitofmuscle is shaping up well for Nairn though and could race against the older horses next month as Nairn prepares him for the two-year-old trots that were missed because of Covid-19 this season and will be run belatedly in September or October next season. “I have him and another two-year-old coming up well enough they could be factors for races like that.” Further away than racing than them is this season’s stunning Dominion winner Habibi Inta, who has been sidelined since missing the Interdom Final at Alexandra Park in December. “He had a suspensory injury them which sounds like it will be ok,” says Nairn. “It is actually his second one, he had a problem with the suspensory in his other leg and it hasn’t been a problem since he resumed on it so I am hoping we get the same result with this one. “But I wouldn’t see him being back at the races till probably Labour Weekend at Ashburton. “That would still give him a shot at defending his Dominion title though.” That will leave stable newcomer Lemond as Nairn’s early season open class rep and he is coming to hand well, speeding up to faster work after six weeks with his new trainer. “The way he is coming up some of those traditional races like the Canterbury Park or Banks Peninsula Cups could be in the right time slot for him.” As for this week Nairn will have last season’s Jewels placegetter Gil Favor back at Addington on Friday. “He is a good honest horse and a handy stayer so he will always be a chance.”   By Michael Guerin

1: Best horse who you have ever been associated or worked with (owned, bred, jogged, trained, driven): Hard to compare these 2 horses from different eras in an evolving breed. Stig and Call Me Now 2: Best horse you have ever seen live: Lyell Creek 3: Best horse you have seen in any form (live, on tv, on the internet): Varenne 4: If you could have any driver in history driving for you in most important race of your life, it would be?: David Butt 5: The best trainer you have ever seen: Jack Litten 6: Your favourite racetrack: Kaikoura 7: The unluckiest or hardest to swallow defeat of your career: Dr Hook 2nd in Dominion. Dr Hook led I also had Musgrove in the race but he did not back up well from racing Cup Day and couldn't run on. This helped Vulcan to get out late and get up to beat Dr Hook by a head. I told Vulcan's trainer Tim Butt, Vulcan had the ugliest head I have ever seen.I was copying Tim's grandfather Derek Jones one liner when he was beaten on Soangetaha in the 1951 Pacing Interdominion Final into second by Vedette. 8: The race you have never won but would love to: Elitlopp Sweden 9: The horse we never got to see the best of is: I have a number of them, Marvin was one. Call You Later another. 10: The racing win, yours or somebody elses, that gave you the most joy: My first training and driving win Wave Goodbye Maiden Trot Motukarara 12-3-87. I can still remember Colin De Filippi saying congratulations as we eased up and my Boss Bill Doyle shaking my hand after the race. 11: Who is the person in harness racing you haven’t seen since lockdown started you are looking forward to seeing the most when we get back to the track: Bob Butt   Harness Racing New Zealand

A lifetime of experience rather than any medical evidence suggests Lotamuscle can bounce back at Alexandra Park tonight.  But whether he bounces back far enough to beat Tickle Me Pink in the $25,000 Northern Trotting Guineas is the question for punters.  The little trotter with the big sprint let his backers down in the Northern Derby last Friday, not running past a rival in the straight after sitting in the one-one, finishing an underwhelming fourth. That was a far cry from his booming win in the NZ Trot Derby last month and even his second, coming from well back, in the Sires’ Stakes Trot two weeks ago.  Many trainers would have called the nearest equine vet to have blood test performed on Lotamuscle after such a lack lustre performance, searching for a reason. Not Nairn.  “I think it was just a bad night at the office for him,” he offers.  “I don’t get a lot of blood tests done, maybe I should because I know a lot of trainers would.  “But I find that when there is something wrong enough for a bad blood report you can tell. And this week he has been energetic and normal in his work.  “So I think he will go a lot better this week.”  Nairn has Lotamuscle and Gil Favor in the Guineas, a new race on the calendar, and as talented as they both are they will need to be good to beat Tickle Me Pink.  Tony Herlihy produced one of the training performances of the season to win the Sires’ Stakes Final with Tickle Me Pink in her first start in nine months and then allowed her to miss last Friday’s Derby.  She has natural high speed and just as importantly is drawn inside the Nairn pair tonight so gets the chance to dictate to them. She could even lead and would be extremely hard to beat.  “That first up run didn’t seem to harm her at all and she has worked well since,” says Herlihy, who also has Fortunato in the Guineas.  Herlihy though will be at Addington where he has two chances in the Sales Series Trot and says he can’t split Cheeky Babe and Bolt For Brilliance as they both take on the raw talent of Ultimate Stride and One Majic Kenny.  The highlight of the harness weekend though is the Addington clash of three Oaks winners, Princess Tiffany (NSW), Best Western (Northern) and Belle Of Montana (Victoria) in the Nevele R Fillies Final.  All three have drawn the second line so luck will come into play and it will be of huge interest to see whether the All Stars stick to their usual rule for horses drawn one on the second line with Princess Tiffany.  They have been long-term believers in pushing through with horses drawn one on the second and trying their luck rather than pulling back and going around their rivals, the latter tactic costs you too much ground.  Princess Tiffany follows out a potential leader in Wainui Creek and if she stayed in front and gave Princess Tiffany the trail this race might be over. So what does Wainui Creek’s driver Ricky May think? “I can’t really worry about Princess Tiffany but she (Wainui Creek) hasn’t quite been good enough in front lately so I will be dictated by what Richard (Aubrey, trainer) says,” says May.   Michael Guerin

The men who have been there, done that suggest the best run as much as the best horse will win tomorrow night’s $150,000 Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park. And while the TAB market says the young gun four-year-olds have the wood on their rivals the race is shaping as one of the most even group ones at Alexandra Park in years. Last Friday’s Anzac Cup winner Sundees Son shares the $4 favouritism with fellow four-year-old Majestic Man as bookmakers signal what they see as a changing of the guard in the open class trotting ranks. But Majestic Man’s trainer Phil Williamson says while he couldn’t be happier going into the race the youngsters will need more than sheer ability on their side. “It is a very good race and there are plenty of winning chances,” says Williamson, one of only two trainers in the race to have won both the Rowe Cup and the Dominion, New Zealand’s two marquee trotting races. “I think a lot of it will come down to the run and the horse who has the luck. “This field is that even and at this level luck is crucial. I think Majestic Man will handle barrier one and if he steps away and can trail or be three back on the markers I’ll be happy. “But as good as both him and Sundees Son were last week they can’t just expect to beat these older horses with speed because 3200m is a different type of race. “So yes we can win but it won’t be easy. These races never are.” That opinion is shared by Paul Nairn, the only other trainer in the race who has won both the Rowe and the Dominion. He has Ronald J and Habibi Inta in the Rowe and thinks both can get closer than their fifth and sixths in the Anzac Cup. “Both of them had a bit of bad luck last week, Ronald J got held up a bit and Habibi Inta was hitting the stays on his sulky, which we will fix for this week. “But they are only two of about six or eight chances in the race. “One of the big things in these races is having a horse who can get away good from the standing start and get to the marker pegs because that is a huge help. “Over the 3200m it can be very hard to win if you are covering extra ground in the running line.”
 That would appear to be the problem for horses like defending champion Speeding Spur and Sundees Son, both of whom have to give away starts from the second line and will therefore almost certainly be three wide at some stage. That didn’t bother Sundees Son over 2200m last Friday and he may be so brilliant and in the zone he can still win but he did gallop shortly after the line last Friday so is still very much a take on trust horse at the early stage of his open class career. While the Rowe Cup has a huge array of winning hopes the $100,000 Trotting Derby looks to have two and once against Nairn should be to the fore with Lotamaucle. He was nearly 20-1 when he beat Enhance Your Calm in the NZ Trot Derby last month but is only $2.90 to repeat that as he appears to be a happy horse while Enhance Your Calm bungled his Alexandra Park debut becoming unbalanced and galloping early. The best version of Enhance Your Calm may be too fast for Lotamuscle but even if the favourite can lead it looks like Lotamuscle could be sitting on his back in the trail and that could make for an uncomfortable watch for Enhance Your Calm’s backers. Turn It Up ($1.65)as again opened favourite over stablemate Spankem ($3.60) even though the latter used his better barrier draw to win last Friday’s Taylor Mile and has that advantage again.   Michael Guerin

Trotting’s magic man believes he can pull off his second 20-1 group one winner this month in tomorrow night’s Anzac Cup. And while coming from anybody else that might sound wishful thinking, when master trainer Paul Nairn says it it is worth punters paying attention to. Nairn is one of the most respected trainer in the industry so it was rare to see him produce a big-odds winner when Lotamuscle blew past red hot favourite Enhance Your Calm in the $100,000 NZ Trotting Derby at Addington on April 5. The pair clash again in the $60,000 Sires’ Stakes at Alexandra Park’s huge premier meeting tomorrow night and while both have second line draws it is tempting for punters that Lotamuscle is rated a $6.50 chance in early markets compared with Enhance Your Calm’s $1.35 quote. But while Nairn thinks Lotamuscle can win with the right sit-sprint trip it is later in the night he believes he has the blowout chance in the $100,000 Anzac Cup. Nairn has both Ronald J and Habibi Inta in the outstanding open class field and says a huge improvement from Ronald J wouldn’t surprise. At his best the big trotter has looked to have serious x-factor but has let punters down with a pair of sixth placings in his last two starts. Nairn says he has had excuses. “I was disappointed by his last start so we had him checked out and he had a few issues,” he explains. “He had a few minor soreness issues we worked on and also had a high white blood cell count, which suggests he had an infection. “That has been fixed too and he has better now. And his work at home has suggested he is even happy right-handed than he is down home.  "So with a good draw and some gate speed I think he can be handy or even lead and I can’t see any reason he can’t win, even allowing for how strong the field is.”  With the TAB bookies opening Ronald J at $21 that gives punters a real chance in one of the best trotting races of the season. Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up is set to start a odds-on favourite in the $100,000 Taylor Mile having opened at $1.60 even though he has drawn outside Miracle Mile winner Spankem. The latter opened $3.10 but was backed into $2.60 last night in the sprint which has already seen Triple Eight scratched. Unbeaten filly Sweet On Me is the $1.16 good thing for the night in the Caduceus Club Classic. Michael Guerin

David Butt has resigned himself to not driving his favourite trotting lady again. And that could signal a general winding down on his career in the sulky, even though he is not retiring. Butt would love to be behind former stable star Wilma’s Mate, now trained by Paul Nairn, when the speedster mare returns in the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup at Motukarara on Sunday. But after driving her at the trials last Saturday he says he is not up to the job. One of the best judges of pace among his modern day rivals, Butt only drove 15 times last season after a mystery illness struck him down in May last year. After initial fears he had had a stroke, Butt recovered quickly to partner Wilma’s Mate to win the 2017 four-year-old trot at the Jewels but has struggled with his balance when driving since.  “I am still not right,” admits Butt. “I drove her (Wilma’s Mate) at the trials last Saturday and wasn’t 100 per cent with my balance.  “And you can’t be driving in the best races when you aren’t right.  “Obvously we are nowhere as involved with the horses as we used to be and I will still be able to drive, probably the odd maiden here and there.  “But I wouldn’t want to go into a race like the Dominion in a couple of months and make a mistake.  “So I won’t be driving her this weekend or any time soon.”  The laconic Butt has earned a reputation for being one of the most-laid back reinsman in New Zealand but his talent is enormously respected among his peers.  He has over 1100 wins in New Zealand, with a career-best 85 wins in 2009 and has also won a Hunter Cup in Victoria with Bondy as well as an Inter Dominon Trotting Final with Call Me Now at home.  But for all his skill in the sulky Butt’s greatest claim to harness fame is the fact he and wife Catherine won the national trainer’s premiership twice (2006 and 2007), their 90 winners in 2007 putting them 17 clear of their nearest rivals. Remarkably, that season they trained twice as many winners in New Zealand as the now perennial premiership winner Mark Purdon.  The Butts have enormously downscaled their training operations since though.   Michael Guerin

Trainer Greg Hope is 100 per cent confident champion trotter Monbet will make it back to the races this year even though it has been over 20 months since he has graced the track. The rising seven-year-old hasn’t raced since a national record win in the Dominion at Addington on November 11, 2016, missing most of that season and the entire of  this one. Monbet has actually had two preparations since that stunning win but has failed to stand up to training on both occasions with the pin being pulled on this season when he was just a week away from racing. But Hope says the 2016 Horse of the Year could have actually raced this season and probably would have had he been a normal horse. “He had knee issues and being such a great horse we didn’t want to take any chances with him,” he explains. “He has had stem cell injections there, two courses, and he is as sound as he can be at the moment. “Things can always go wrong with horses but at this stage, unless something else comes up, I am sure we will get him back to the races. “Then it will be a matter of getting him back to his best and that could take a little longer because he has been away from racing for such a long time. “The temptation will be there to have him ready to go in his very first start back but I don’t think we can expect that. “I don’t want to put that level of pressure on him in training so I’d rather get him ready to race and let him come to peak through racing.” Monbet is likely to trial mid-September with races like the Flying Mile at Ashburton in October obvious aims as he heads toward another New Zealand Cup meeting. After that Hope and wife Nina will have a big decision to make, whether to test Monbet’s troublesome legs out at the Inter Dominions in Victoria in December as the trotting series is reborn.  With this season’s open class trotting ranks having seen no dominant trotter emerge, if Monbet can return to his best he would almost certainly be the best trotter in Australasia again, which makes the $17 some bookies are quoting for the Inter Dominions tempting to some. One key rival Monbet won’t have to worry about should be make it to either the NZ Cup carnival or Inter Dominions is stablemate Enghien. The four-year-old is one of the best open class prospects in the country but Hope says he is on an extended break and may not race until coming north in December. But the horse who has emerged as Enghien’s arch rival, Habibi Inta, will be up and racing well before then. Trainer Paul Nairn says the enormously-improved Jewels winner will be back and ready to race in the traditional major spring trots heading into the NZ Cup carnival. “He had a very good end to his last campaign and I think his manners will take him a long way in open class,” said Nairn. “So you could even see him in the early trots, races like the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup.  But the outlook is not so positive for Habibi Inta’s older sister Habibti Ivy, a former Rowe Cup runner-up who hasn’t raced since finishing second in the Flying Mile at Ashburton last October.  “While nothing is confirmed yet I don’t think she will make it back to the track and she will probably be retired to stud,” said Nairn.  That would still leave the master trainer with former Jewels winner Wilma’s Mate and Ronald J in his open class team to take on Monbet and the likes of Great Things Happen this spring. Monbet Record: 34 starts, 23 wins, five placings. Earnings: $770,714 Highlights: Rowe Cup, Dominion, Anzac Cup, National Trot, 4-y-o Jewels, NZ Free-For-All (twice), Australasian Trotting Champs. Honours: 2015-16 Horse of the Year, three national records. Michael Guerin

Tough summer love paid huge winter dividends for Habibi Inta in the sensation race at the Harness Jewels on Saturday. While there were better winning performances on the nine group one raceday, the four-year-old trot was controversial even before it started, with hot favourite Enghien galloping from barrier three in the score-up and driver Ricky May choosing to start from the unruly for the second attempt. Enghien galloped again, losing his winning chance and burning punters, but trainer Greg Hope backed May’s call 100 per cent. “If I had a phone and was able top call Ricky after that first gallop I would have told him to do exactly what he did, start from the unruly,” said Hope. “It was a real shame because he went enormous after galloping. I am starting to think maybe he just doesn’t like Cambridge.” While the incident would have left Enghien punters feeling sour at least the three minute hold up gave some a chance to cover their bets on Habibi Inta, who unlike his arch rival never put a hoof wrong and won easily from in front. And his trainer Paul Nairn says this new, more mature Habibi Inta may have been forged on the rugged hills of Waikari in North Canterbury. “Last season he could be a bit weak, both physically and mentally, so we chucked him into a big paddock on the hills up there and left him there for three months,” says Nairn. “I went back and got him on New Year’s Day and was thrilled with what I saw. He was bigger and stronger and had grown up and he has raced liked that. “The hills are pretty rugged there and they have to keep themselves fit just walking around. Its been great for him. “He has all the tools to be a genuine open class horse next season now.” Habiba Inta always looked a good horse waiting to happen and Saturday was his graduation day. He can now trot 1:56 miles from a mobile, begin quickly from a stand, win over any distance and has developed into being just as potent left or right-handed. That suggests he is Nairn’s next seriously good horse at a time when the career of his older sister Habibti Ivy, a national record holder, is in doubt. But Nairn has two more past Jewels winners in One Over Da Moon and Wilma’s Mate, who returns to jogging soon, to work with also. Which is just as well as the Canterbury trainer is going to have a few more bills in the new season, he and new wife Vangie are expecting their first child together next month.  “We are both very excited and wins like this will help,” smiled Nairn. Habibi Inta’s win mirrored that on Saturday’s two other trots, with both Enhance Your Calm and Winterfell big strong boys who led throughout from good draws. Winterfell has been a huge improver in the last three months and looks an open class star of the future while Enhance Your Calm is unbeaten and so in the zone for a trip to Victoria, where he is owned, for the Breeders Crown wouldn’t surprise. Michael Guerin

Paramount King was almost the forgotten horse of the two-year-old Ruby on Jewels day last year. That was until he put pay to the best crop of juvenile trotters in recent memory. The flashy chestnut son of Love You snuck under the guard of many punters, reflected in his tote price of $10. Co-breeder Graham Gimblett didn’t need reminding how good Paramount King was as in recent years, the progeny of his mare Paramount Star have come up trumps. Last season’s Two Year Old Trotter of the year makes his race day return tonight at Cambridge and looks well placed in his race day resumption. His co-breeder Graham Gimblett can hardly wait! Not only has Gimblett tasted success with standardbreds but can boast to have bred multiple Group One winner and Melbourne Cup placegetter Xcellent as his first thoroughbred foal! More on that later. His hobby and love of breeding has been a long road. However, the fourth-generation cattle & dairy farmer from Dannevirke concedes that for all his attempts at breeding champions, it was the breed right under his nose that has served him best. His father John was farming at a time when it was common to have a horse in the paddock. And that’s where the love affair starts. “My father had a mare dropped off to him in the 1940’s that was never picked up. It was at a time when it was common to have a horse in the paddock and being a farmer he had a bit of knowledge of horsemanship.” That mare was Lady Errol (1947 B m Robert Earl - Kaimata Daisy). She was untried as a race horse but was bred from in 1953 when served by Lucky Hanover, a pacing bred stallion who threw 2 trotting winners from his 22 race winning foals. One of which was the first foal from Lady Errol; Lassie Hanover (1953). She won twice and placed on 14 other occasions becoming the foundation for which Graham’s father John would breed and race horses with for the next twenty years. “Dad always had a horse or two, and at the time it was quite a social thing. He used to lease his horses out prior to breeding from Lassie Hanover but when he retired from the farm to a property on the outskirts of Dannevirke in 1968, he brought them back and started training them himself. The first foal from Lassie Hanover was Frosty Lass which Gimblett’s father was to train for six of her nine victories. Pretty impressive for a self-taught horseman who then gave the mare to John Dickie’s father Ivan to train where she was good enough to run second in the 1971 Rowe Cup. As history suggests later with the breed, the Dickie’s have been there almost every step of the way. “My father sold her to the States shortly after that but then along came Darky Forbes.” Darky Forbes (1966 Bl g Hi Lo's Forbes - Lassie Hanover) was to win 11 races including the 1974 National Trot with a young Mike De Fillipi in the sulky and Colin Berkett doing the training. Gimblett’s father is credited with no less than six of the victories of the trotter that had run second in a Dominion Handicap 6 weeks earlier which was taken out by Easton Light. The son of Hi Los Forbes also won a heat of the 1975 Interdominion Trotting Series before too being sold to the United States. The first two foals from Lassie Hanover were unique as like their mum, they were dual-gaited. While Lassie Hanover only qualified as a pacer, her first two foals raced in both gaits. Frosty Lass won three of her nine as a pacer with Darky Forbes winning once in the pacing gait also. They were after all by pacing stallions! Fourth foal Karen Maree won four races with two being credited to John Gimblett and the other two to Charlie Hunter NZOM. She wasn’t to split her deeds by gait racing exclusively as a pacer. She was the mare the Gimblett’s continued to breed from with Graham joining his father John in breeding his first standardbred in 1978 with the mare’s second foal, Karen’s Trowbridge (1978 Trowbridge – M). Karen’s Trowbridge paced. As did her older sister Karen’s Rainbow (1977 Adover Rainbow). Sadly, Graham’s father passed before ever seeing the foal they bred together race. “When my father died in 1981 I had a couple of horses looking across the fence at me on the farm. One of them was the third foal from Karen Maree, Karanero (1980 Bl m Lonero - Karen Maree). I’d only really helped gear a few harness horses up but I didn’t know too much about the training of them. I’d driven but as for the shoeing, feeding and the racing I had never been involved. What’s a man to do when he has a couple of horses in the paddock asking to be put in work? Get himself a trainer’s license of course! “At that time, Stephen Argue was actually based in Palmerston North and he helped me a bit getting started and there were lot of very helpful people in Palmerston.” Karanero was the first horse that Graham Gimblett took to the races as a trainer. She won five races in his care, her fifth at Auckland over two miles was achieved after master trainers Barry & Roy Purdon had lined her up for six starts managing only two second placings! “That is probably my biggest thrill in racing actually. I floated her all the way up to Auckland from Dannevirke and she can’t of enjoyed the trip as she ran dead last the first week. I decided to stay up there and train her in Auckland at Dave Jessop’s property. We came out the next week and won at Alexandra Park and I’ll never forget that.” Her last start was a 10th in the 1990 Rowe Cup where she received exactly half the stake money her dam’s sister Frosty Lass had been afforded in 1971 when running second in the same race. “That’s inflation for ya!” joked Gimblett. “Karanero was like the other foals of Karen Maree in that she was bred to pace, but she only managed one third and after about eight starts we put some trotting shoes on her. Well away she went, it was quite unbelievable. We had given up on her until we tried her as a trotter and away she went. Ever since that day when I realised she had the trotting genes I’ve only ever bred to trotting sires.” The first foal from Karanero was Jay H Gee (1992 g Gee Whizz) who won three races for Frank Phelan from only 16 starts. The second foal was the first of many ‘Paramounts’ for Gimblett. The moniker came about while brainstorming for the name of a milk station. “We were trying to come up with a name for a milking station in Masterton and the names ‘Apex’ and ‘Paramount’ were the ones being bandied about. We ended up settling on ‘Apex’ but I decided ‘Paramount’ would be a keeper for my horses.” Paramount Jack (1993 Gee Whiz II g) showed plenty of ability winning seven of his first ten starts in the care of Frank Phelan. As he started reaching a tough mark Gimblett decided his future racing was best to continue down south. “I sent him down to Paul Nairn because I worked out that while Jack was talented, we were only winning $3000 races around the Manawatu region while horses of his class were racing for much more down south.” It took the son of Gee Whiz II a while to settle into the South Island but during Cup Week in 2000, he ran a third on Cup Day behind Take A Moment before winning a $15,000 race on Show Day. Before being sold to America, Paramount Jack won 12 races and ran third again behind Take A Moment, this time in the 2001 Dominion Handicap. The next two foals were also by Gee Whizz II. Zesty (1995) won five races before being sold to Phillip Iggo to breed from leaving nice types like Armori (4 wins – 21 placings.) Gee F Gee (1996) won four races in the care of John Dickie some 30 years after his father Ivan had trained a trotter from the Gimblett breed. The next foal was Paramount Star, a talented trotter of seven wins (also for John Dickie) where she also managed a third in the 2003 Greenlane Cup. Upon her race retirement, Gimblett decided a change was in order for him to continue with his hobby and passion of breeding Standardbreds. “Dannevirke was a tough placed to be involved in those times, I was involved in administration as the president of the Manawatu Trotting Club for a number of years. We were racing for poor stakes, Hutt Park was winding down and I became pretty disillusioned with it all to be honest. I had become good friends with Brian West who I instructed to take the mare down to Christchurch and see if we couldn’t breed anything that was any good!” “I had just bought a galloping broodmare and put her in foal to Pentire.” The resulting foal was one of the most freakish gallopers to come out of New Zealand since the turn of the century. He ran third in the 2005 Melbourne Cup after winning the NZ Derby, NZ, Mudgway & Kelp Capital Stakes.  “Xcellent was a great thrill and a bit of a surprise to be honest. You don’t really expect to breed a horse like that and he was running for a wee bit more money than some of my other horses had.” Xcellent broke down during the running of the Trentham Stakes in 2008, abruptly ending the career of one of the most promising horses to grace an NZ turf. Gimblett didn’t have to wait long for another champion to appear as the first foal he and Brian West bred together out of Paramount Star was sold through the yearling sales in 2009 for $28,000 to John Dickie. “He was a massive yearling and that probably counted against him a wee bit. But it was great to see him heading to the Dickies.” Paramount Gee Gee was the third foal from Paramount Star and in 2010 was named two-year-old Trotting Colt of the Year. He won the NZ Sales Series, Trotting Stakes & Breeders Crown in his juvenile season. After running second by a head to Kylie Ree in the Hambletonian he was never beaten again as a three-year-old winning both Derbies, the Sires Stake & Sales Series, Harness Jewels and Breeders Crown in 2011. Good enough for another age group Horse of the Year title. As a four year old he won the Trotters Championship but was riddled with injuries. He sadly died in 2012 having amassed a whopping $561,000 in stakes. “Brian had been over in France on holiday and came back with the idea that we needed to breed to the French Stallion, Love You. He has to take the credit for the success of the mare in that regard as she has been a wonderful producer when mated with that stallion.”   Paramount Star has been a wonderful producer whoever she is mated with as seen below; 2005: Ellevenfiftyseven (Malabar Maple) | 16 Starts, 2 wins, 3 placings. $13,228 2006: Nonippin | (Earl) | Qualified but unraced. 2007: Paramount Gee Gee (Pegasus Spur) | 30 Starts, 17 wins, 6 placings. $561,342 2009: Paramount Queen (Love You) | 27 Starts, 8 wins, 12 placings. $122,612.  (3rd 2YO Trotting Stakes, 3rd 2YO Sires Stakes, 3rd 2YO Ruby, 1st Hambletonian, 2nd NZ Oaks, 3rd 3YO Ruby, 2nd Cambridge Flying Mile) 2010: Paramount Bliss (Majestic Son) $50,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | Unraced. 2011: Paramount Dream (Pegasus Spur) $50,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | 28 Starts, 8 wins, 5 placings. $69,496. 2012: Paramount Faith (Pegasus Spur) $48,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | Unraced 2014: Paramount King (Love You) $110,000 Yearling Sales Purchase | 8 Starts, 4 wins, 1 placing. $64,982. 2015: Paramount Prince (Andover Hall) $35,000 Yearling Sales Purchase   Her progeny has combined for 39 wins and four Jewels starters from seven foals of racing age. Paramount King’s win in the two-year-old Ruby last year was particularly sweet for Gimblett who these days gets his kicks out of simply being the breeder and following his stock. “John offered me a share in Paramount King but living where I do it’s pretty hard to get to the races and it’s not the same just watching it on the TV. For me breeding horses is another facet of my farming and I’m lucky to have it as a hobby. I get just as much from following the horses Brian and I are breeding from and it’s great to have another good one like Paramount King racing. Paramount Star this year produced a Muscle Hill filly after having missed in the 2016 season. “Paramount Queen should make a wonderful broodmare being by Love You and Brian and I are breeding from her also. Paramount Star is getting on a bit now so I’m hopeful her daughters will continue with the same success” Paramount Queen was served this year by Andover Hall and following on from a wonderful race career, will no doubt carry on the family line that has served the Gimblett’s (and Dickie’s!!) so well for 70 years. Co-breeder Brian West has little doubt it will touting that everything Graham Gimblett does is brushed with gold. With the Paramount mares and a full sister to Xcellent to continue breeding from, the golden run should continue a while yet.   Story from Breeding Matters, a publication of the NZ Standardbred Breeders Association - for more information on how you can join the NZSBA and get your copy email    Brad Reid NZ Standardbred Breeders Association 

Top trotting mare Habibti Ivy is in a race against time to be ready for next week’s Dominion. The Rowe Cup runner-up has been struggling in her work since her booming second to Great Things Happen in the Flying Mile at Ashburton last start and trainer Paul Nairn admits he is concerned.  I haven’t been able to get the work into her I would like,” said Nairn. “So she is no certainty to make it to Cup week but I will know more in the next few days.” Nairn says Habibti Ivy has a type of bruising on one of her heels and while she may be right by next week he is worried about the work she has potentially missed heading into a hard 3200m of the Dominion on November 17.  “Its called a sheared heel and it is bothering her in her frog as well.” If Habibti Ivy doesn’t make it to the race Nairn could still have both The Foot Tapper and Wilma’s Mate in the Dominion but the exciting Ronald J definitely won’t be starting after a late gallop cost him near certain victory at Addington last Friday  “He is being aimed at the Free-For-All on Cup day instead.” Michael Guerin

Master trotting trainer Paul Nairn made it four wins in the Banks Peninsular Trotting cup when Habibty Ivy won the time honoured race at Motukarara on Sunday in the hands of driver Blair Orange. Nairn had previously won the cup with Call Me Now in 1994 and Call You Later in 2002 and 2003. Habibty Ivy (Love You - Ten To One) who was the favourite, led for the last 1400m of the race and held on to beat the second favourite Destiny Jones by a short margin.  The winners time was 3-44.2 for the 2810m with a fast final 800m on the dead track in 59.2. Blair Orange also won the last race on the card with the Nigel McGrath trained Goodlookin Chick. That win gave him his 27th win this season which increased his lead in the national drivers premiership. Orange is currently 12 wins clear of Matthew Williamson who is second on 15 wins for the season, with David Butcher third on 13 wins.    Harnesslink Media

Paul Nairn says a “fair handicap” has him confused going into the feature trot at Addington on Friday night. The champion trainer of trotters brings the first of his big guns back to the track this week, with Anzac Cup winner Habibti Ivy kicking off her campaign in the same race as stablemate The Foot Tapper.  As the Rowe Cup runner-up and a multiple national record holder Habibti Ivy deserves favouritism for the 2600m standing but Nairn says he can’t choose between the pair. “She is a very, very good mare and a very good stayer but it is hard to win off a 30m handicap,” says Nairn.  “So if they step and trot 3:19 or something off off the front and she has to come wide then she becomes vulnerable.” And Nairn says The Foot Tapper, who made great progress after joining his team last season, is just the type of horse to do that.  “He is really well and what he has on his side is his manners,” says Nairn. “I think he could be the one to lead and run along so I really can’t decide between the two of them as my best winning chance this week. “The handicap is really evened it up and made it fair.” Meanwhile, Nairn’s Harness Jewels winner Wilma’s Mate has just started fast work and won’t be seen until October at the earliest, with the Flying Mile at Ashburton her first main aim. Friday night’s trot is anything but a Nairn benefit, even though his famous colours -- those worn by the mighty Caduceus -- strike fear into bookmakers, with the likes of Harriet Of Mot, Hey Yo, Petite One and Arya all good enough to win under the right circumstances. The feature pace of the night sees the first steps on the path to the New Zealand Cup for last season’s third placegetter in the great race Titan Banner. Now back with Graeme Anderson after a wonderful season that ended on an Easter Cup low when he was sick, Titan Banner may not have the race fitness of some of his rivals but he has a great record when fresh.  And the reality is, while rivals like stablemate New Years Jay and Art Union are good, open class level horses, Titan Banner has won at close to the highest level so deserves favouritism.   Michael Guerin

Harness racing trainer Paul Nairn has Ronald J primed and ready to go in Race 6 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs meeting tonight at Addington. Nairn does not think the mobile start tonight will worry the big Love You gelding and the small field should suit his style of racing.  Young junior driver Stacy Whatuira has driven Ronald J in all six of his wins and the times the horse is running suggests that he is a logical anchor in tonights $25,000 Pick Six starting in Race 5 Pick Six Preview   Leg 1     Race 5 [7:24pm] Mark Jones holds the key to this leg with his two speedy 3yo pacers The Bus and Si Si Senior. Mark has opted to drive Si Si Senior who came home in very fast sectionals in his first start to the races. With a run closer to the pace he should be hard to beat in this field. The Bus will be driven by Samantha Ottley and he won a workout easily at Rangiora on the 9th August with Sam doing the driving and could try to lead in this race. Van Laddie is another in form horse needed, with driver Blair Orange declaring him his best drive of the night. Leg 2     Race 6 [7:49pm] Ronald J looks to be the clear anchor of Pick Six and should win with no mistakes.   Leg 3     Race 7 [8:16pm] Malik was disappointing last start but his bloods were out and he has been freshened for this. He won a workout recently in preparation for this race and he will be hard to beat if he can find the front at some stage. Lovetodream drops back in class here and gets the services of Matt Purvis with a junior claim. She ran home in 54.7 from back in the field last start which suggests she can win if handier on the turn this week.   Leg 4     Race 8 [8:46pm] This leg is quite tricky with a big field of trotters and many chances. Alvira Hest beat a similar field easily last week and could win again with the same trip but she does go back another 10m this week. We suggest taking as many as the budget allows, but include: Medusa, Dusky Eyre, Rum In The Sun, Redwood Invasion, Rocknpop and Alvira Hest   Leg 5     Race 9 [9:16pm] Another big field here with the TAB favorite being Matau Gem. She went well here when leading last time to the track and driver Gavin Smith thinks she is his best drive this week, so she is a possible anchor. Others worth including are Bound To Impress who has been running home late in most of her starts from back in the field and she could trail here from the ace draw. Also Boomer and Christmas Toyboy from the second row are chances.   Leg 6     Race 10 [9:46pm]  The final leg is an even go and again as many as the budget allows. Gunpowder has been racing well and has drawn to race handy. The 2600m distance will suit and he is the TAB favorite. Others needed are, Bohannan, Kiwi On Show, Bettor Chance, Martin John and My Wee Man.   Suggested Pick Six   ($21.60 for 20%) Leg 1     4,7,10 Leg 2     3 Leg 3     7,9 Leg 4     3,6,7,15,16,17 Leg 5     3 Leg 6     3,4,8,9,10,11   Harnesslink Media          

A mystery illness has left David Butt’s Jewels dream hanging by a thread after he initially feared he had a stroke last week. The Canterbury horseman will have to pass a doctor’s examination to be allowed to drive the well-fancied Wilma’s Mate at Saturday’s $1.2million meeting at Ashburton. Butt was hospitalized last Thursday after suffering from severe dizziness when he woke up. “I couldn’t get my balance and felt like I was going to fall over when I tried to walk,” said the Inter Dominion-winning reinsman. “Too be honest, I was scared I had had a stroke because I had never felt anything like that before. “For the first few days I was dizzy and couldn’t stand light or noise but the doctors tell me I have been suffering from vertigo. “They said it is relatively common and now I have had it I keep hearing from other people they have had it to. But it was a real shock.” Butt says many of the symptoms have now cleared, with the return of his balance the next and most important step. “It is getting better but I am still not driving work at home. “The stipes (stewards) know and they have told me I have to get a clearance from the doctor on Friday to be able to drive on Saturday. “The strange part is the doctors can’t tell me exactly what has gone wrong. “The two most likely reasons are a head knock or a virus of some type and I haven’t had any head knocks so the virus sounds the most likely reason. “If that has what caused it the doctors said I could have had it for a while lying dormant.”  Butt has two scheduled Jewels drives with Wilma’s Mate the second favourite for the $100,000 four-year-old trot after drawing the ace. “I’d love to drive her because I really think she can win but obviously I won’t be driving her if I’m now right. “So the doctors will tell me on Friday but it has improved quite a lot the last few days.” For all his success Butt has driven just one Jewels winner, One Over Da Moon, at Ashburton in 2013 for Wilma’s Mate’s trainers Paul Nairn. Should he not be able to take the reins on Saturday his son Bob would seem the most likely replacement as he won races on Wilma’s Mate last season. Wilma’s Mate is the $4 second favourite for her division on Saturday, with Southland  mare Dark Horse still at $2.50 with the New Zealand TAB, though she opened $4.50 with Australian bookmakers post-draw last Friday. The big shortener in the that market has been Marcoola, with last season’s champion three-year-old trotter into $4.20 after looking more aggressive at the Ashburton workouts on Saturday. Michael Guerin

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. Michael Guerin

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