Blair and Ivy back in businnes

By Matt Markham Twitter: @MattMarkham07

Blair Orange is just happy to be back in the sulky behind exciting trotting filly Habibti Ivy this week.

The in-form horseman had to watch on from Auckland, where he has been based for the best part of the last month, as the Paul Nairn trained trotter turned in an eye-catching performance to finish a close up third behind three-year-old trotting kingpins, Monbet and Prince Fearless at the end of last month.

But he liked what he saw.

“I thought she was really good,’’ Orange said.

“To run that close to the two boys was a great effort for a filly so early in her career.

“It was a really encouraging effort.’’

Orange jumps back on board this week for the Storer Motors New Zealand Trotting Oaks up against a field which has people musing over whether or not it’s one of the best Oaks fields assembled. Habibty Ivy’s chances gained a notable boost when the barrier draws were released and she earned the two spot from behind the mobile arm while those charged with being her toughest opposition have drawn wider and on the second line.

“The draw gives us a few options and brings her right into contention.

“It won’t be easy though, Arya coming back from Australia is obviously the horse to beat and you have Yagunnakissmeornot in there as well and she’s been really good up North.

“But as long as things go right I think I’m on a horse who is capable of winning the race that’s for sure.’’

Despite having not driven for Nairn a lot in his career, Orange said the prospect of driving for such a well-respected trainer in a feature race was exciting.

“Paul is our master trainer of trotters, it gives you a lot of confidence when you jump on one of his horses that’s for sure.’’

A daughter of Love You, Habibti Ivy’s breeding puts almost demands she is a better than average horse and she has the pressure of having an older sister who has already won the Oaks.

Full-sister Habibti was a winner two years ago and went on to bigger and better things following her performance so the platform has been laid for Habibti Ivy to follow in her footsteps.

A Group Three event, the Oaks has drawn a full field this year and is headlined by the returning Arya who has been in stellar form for Brent Lilly and owner, Trevor Casey on the other side of the Tasman.

She is now back in the care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen who also have Wanna Play and Petite One engaged in the race.