Aging trotter Stig on trial for Australian mission

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014
Stig the horse
PHIL DOYLE/ Fairfax NZ
OLDIE BUT A GOODIE: Stig.

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He might be almost 12-years-old and battling the odd bout of arthritis along with everything else usually associated with old age, yet Stig never ceases to amaze.

His career already has more twists and turns than a best-seller but there might be one more chapter to add before it hits the shelves. 

Should the elder statesman of harness racing perform as well as his trainer Paul Nairn expects him to tonight, when he heads to Addington, Stig can pack his bags for a flight to Australia next week to tackle the Great Southern Star.

Fail to live up to the boss's standards and the end of the line for one of our greatest trotters might be a little closer.

So, it's fair to say pressure is at an all-time high, yet in his normal nonchalant fashion, Nairn isn't the least bit concerned. 

''I would like to think he will be at least three to four lengths better this week than what he was when he last raced,'' Nairn said yesterday. 

''I've been really pleased with him over the past week, soundness-wise he's really good, there are just the usual arthritic problems which we can treat quite easily, but he's really well at the moment. 

''He's got such a tremendous attitude, he wants to be a racehorse and loves being in work.''

Stig will line up against five other runners in tonight's assignment with the field including exciting young guns Royal Aspirations and Sheemon, making the task at hand a little more challenging. 

''They are all very good horses we are up against, so he's going to need to be very good, but I know he can be.

Nairn was quite excited about getting back to the Great Southern Star after things went pear-shaped last year. 

After winning his heat quite impressively early in the night Stig then galloped shortly  after the start in the final a few hours later. 

''He ended up being quite lame, but he handled the whole racing twice in one day situation quite well I thought, but you wouldn't go back there unless you were really happy.''

David Butt will continue his association with the grand old campaigner tonight. Butt will also steer Nairn's two other runners tonight Lotalov and Harness Jewels winner, One Over Da Moon, the latter of whom he is expecting a strong performance from. 

After galloping fresh-up at Motukarara and then lugging in the entire way during the Hambletonian at Ashburton, Nairn has had his work cut out to get the rising star back  on track but thinks he might be winning. 

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''I gave him some time off after Ashburton and he's just built up nice and slowly.

''There has been a lot of work with the heavy gig cart and not a lot of actual trackwork but I did work him on Monday and I was quite happy with him.

''I've put a pole on him to try and stop him lugging in and it seems to have worked at home. But I would expect him to be very competitive, even from his wide draw.''

The $8000 3-year-old trot is one of the races of the night with plenty of scope in a full field of young trotters. 

Hambletonian winner, Majestic Time, returns to the race having won a trial earlier this week while impressive last-start winner Twentyten will also line up.

- Stuff

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