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Orange looks to extend lead

Successful Canterbury harness racing driver Blair Orange will try and distance himself even further ahead of arch-rival Dexter Dunn on this season’s Drivers Premiershp at the Addington day meeting on Saturday.

Orange, who was 35 wins behind Dunn at the end of last season’s premiership, has come out guns-a-blazing in the early stages of this year’s premiership, racking up 18 wins to Dunn’s three.

Dunn, who completed a 10-year stretch of NZ Driving Premiership wins last season, has written off much of the start of the new season and is missing in action again this weekend.

The champion NZ reinsman and 2015 World Driving Champion Dunn has taken leave of absence for a week for a rugby tournament at Aspen, Colorado, in the United States, with the West Melton Warthogs.

He also overseas in August competing at the World Driving Championships in Canada, and the Australasian Breeders Crown Finals day in Victoria.

This presents Orange with an opportunity to edge further ahead with a host of form drives, including pre-post favourite Habibti Ivy in the feature, $18,000 Anthony Shearer Ltd Ordeal Trotting Cup.

Orange is chasing his second win in the races, having won it behind the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained Cyclone U Bolt four years ago.

Top trot trainer Paul Nairn, who prepares Habibti Ivy, is also chasing just his second Ordeal Trotting Cup win.

The Anthony Shearer Ltd-sponsored race now has direct entry for the winner to the Group One Haras des Trotteurs Dominion at Addington in November but Its not a race Nairn has targeted too many times previously.

He did win it when Musgrove beat Clover Don and another former Nairn trotter in Dr Hook six years ago.

Old warhorse Dr Hook also ran second to Cyclone U Bolt four years ago, while he was unplaced in the race with Shaq Attack when champion Lyell Creek won in it in 2000.

In Habibti Ivy he has a trotter assured of a Dominion start but with average luck she can improve on her nose second at Addington two weeks ago, after being inconvenienced when Hey Yo drifted wide on the turn.

The Love You-Ten To One mare also lugged in slightly near the finish, just faiing to catch Alderbeck, but that was her first start without a lead-up trial since May and she will strip fitter for this.

Orange should be dividend-bearing for much of Saturday, with Habibti Ivy clearly his best winning chance.

He is ineligible to compete in the opening race for amateur drivers but has a full book in the other nine races.

The other Orange drives are: Karmic Way, Idle Moose, Ready To Rumble, Sundons Flyer, Reaza Grunter, Buster Brady, Beachbabebeauty and Amazon Lily.

His second best drive may be with Beachbabebeauty, who was very impressive