Defending Champion out of Dominion

By Michael Guerin 

Habibi Inta has lost his battle to defend the Dominion Trot title next week.

Last year’s winner is out of the great trotting race on Friday week as is former Rowe Cup winner Temporale, creating two new spots sure to be hotly contested after the latest rankings.

Trainer Paul Nairn conceded defeat with Habibi Inta after being unable to fast work the big trotter for a week because of hock problems.

He has had swelling in that area for the last two weeks and while vets seem confident the crucial internal workings of the hock are fine, the swelling is a concern.

“I had no option but to take him out,” says Nairn.

“He will go to the vets now to have his hocks flushed out and we will see if they find anything but until they do we can’t make any plans.

“So hopefully there is nothing major but it is a shame to miss next week.”

Nairn expects to have Kaikoura winner Andoverlov and Maria Tsarina at Cup week but his two top class three-year-olds Bitamuscle and Outamyway are both in the paddock.

“They will be back for the Trotting Derbys and races like that in the New Year and Outamyway maybe even for the Hambletonian but Bitamuscle might spell for a little longer.”

Temporale’s withdrawal is also not a major surprise after he raced well below his best in the Flying Mile at Ashburton last week.

The latest rankings for the Dominion and the NZ Cup came out on Tuesday and of most interest for punters will be whether exciting four-year-old Muscle Mountain will get into the field as he still sits one spot outside the final 15.

If his connections want to start, the answer to that question will almost certainly be yes.

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