Dominion win caps dream week for Orange
By Garrick Knight
New Zealand’s leading driver capped an unforgettable week with victory in the country’s biggest trotting race at Addington on Friday.
Blair Orange, three days removed from winning the New Zealand Cup, pulled off another double-figure-priced upset when Habibi Inta blew his opponents off the track in the $300,000 Dominion Trot.
Orange combined with trainer Paul Nairn in victory and paid tribute to the master trainer of trotters post-race.
“He’s an outstanding trainer; it’s just like when you drive for Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen).
“His horses are fit and healthy and they just trot beautifully and I’m just a lucky guy to be sitting here.”
Habibi Inta was a last-start winner at Kaikoura but punters preferred Purdon and Rasmussen’s boom four-year-old, Oscar Bonavena.
But he struck trouble on the first bend and took no further part.
Second favourite Marcoola, hunting back-to-back wins in the race, led up but couldn’t muster any more down the straight as Habibi Inta cleared out.
“Going in to the race, I never thought we could beat Oscar Bonavena or Marcoola,” said Orange.
“I thought we could run second or third. But once again it comes down to Paul’s ability to have them ready on the day.
“We got a bit of luck and the horse did the rest.”
Nairn was typically under-stated after adding yet another Group 1 to his record, and a third Dominion after Call Me Now in 1995 and Stig in 2008.
“He’s been working sensational but I thought there were four or five good winning chances in the race.
“I kept the work up to him after Kaikoura because I knew he’d have to go very well, and it worked.”
Julie Maghzal owns the Love You stallion and was in shock shortly after receiving the trophy.
“I can’t believe we’ve won it, I just can’t believe we’ve won it,” she said gazing with amazement at the grandiose trophy.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and elated to see him do what I always knew he was capable of.
“He’s been nurtured all the way by the nicest, most lovely man you could ever have dealings with.
“Paul and I have been together in racing for a long, long time.”
Maghzal is in love with Habibi Inta and says he will stand as a stallion one day, privately if not commercially.
“He’s a beautiful, beautiful animal and a very solid trotter and I’ll definitely be breeding from him later on.
“His sister, Habibti Ivy, just had a wee filly by Father Patrick a few days ago so it’s been a great week.
“I’m just so happy to have everyone here to share the day with me; my brother, daughter, all my family and friends.
“To win this race means so much – and I was just happy to have a horse in it.”
The final word went to Orange, who acknowledged former mentor Mike Austin in his speech.
“My first thought when I crossed the line was my late mate Mike Austin.
“I drove a lot of trotters for him and I know he’d be so proud. Thanks MG.”