Habibi Inta ready to peak
By Jonny Turner
Trainer Paul Nairn is confident the scales have tipped the right way as his balancing act of trying to peak Habibi Inta for the Interdominion trotting final continues in the third round of heats on Friday night.
The master squaregaiting trainer clearly had Habibi Inta where he wanted him ahead of the 6yr-old’s brilliant seven and a half length demolition of his rivals in last month’s Dominion.
That version of Habibi Inta has been noticeably absent during the first two heats of the Interdominions, where he has produced a sixth placing that had punters scratching their heads on night one and a solid, but unspectacular second placing on night two.
Nairn admitted the task of peaking Habibi Inta for his epic Dominion win and then managing his recovery for his Interdominion tilt has been a tricky balancing act.
The process of letting Habibi Inta recover from his Dominion bid and then travel to Auckland and prepare for the series had an effect when the horse produced his sixth on night one.
“It is one of those ones where, sure when you first look at it you think he was a wee bit disappointing,” the trainer said.
“But when you analyse everything, with the run he got, it wasn’t too bad.”
“Maybe he was just a shade below his best, but you can understand coming through cup week and a big preparation for that.”
“Obviously, I can’t have him 100% for every start, so all in all I was happy enough on the first night.”
Peaking a horse for both the Interdominion and New Zealand Cup carnival is a tricky task many of New Zealand’s best trainers are facing.
The balancing act of how extract the best out of their horses, while giving them down time appears to be a catch 22.
“If you keep going and don’t back off and keep the work up to them and they go no good, you say you’ve been too hard on them,” Nairn said.
“But, if you back off and freshen them up and they don’t go super, you say you’ve been to soft on them.”
“So, all in all I am happy enough with that first night run, to be honest.”
Two massive factors have changed since night one and they are set to let Habibi Inta’s fans see a version closer to his best on night three.
Firstly, the horse has progressed well through his solid second behind Majestic Man on night two.
And Nairn is expecting to see further improvement from the horse as he attempts to peak for the series final.
“I was quite happy with him on Tuesday night, obviously the winner was a bit too good for us, but my fella got to the line strongly.”
“He got a soft run, but I think he has improved a bit from it.”
The second and most crucial factor aiding Habibi Inta is his step back in to the same distance range in which he delivered his massive Dominion win.
It is something both the trainer and his driver, Blair Orange, think will have a big effect on his Interdominion momentum.
“Blair - like myself - we both feel that the extra 1000m this Friday and next week will really suit,” Nairn said.
Habibi Inta looks the horse that will most appreciate the step from 1700m on night two to 2700m on night three in heat one on Friday night.
Massive Metro looks the trotter that will relish the distance increase the most in heat two on Friday.
The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained squaregaiter has produced credible placings over unsuitably short distances in the first two heats of the Interdominions.
Those needing a reminder of Massive Metro’s staying prowess just need to cast their memories back to December of last year.
In his most notable staying performance, Massive Metro beat series rivals Marcoola and Temporale at Alexandra Park in the Group 1 National Trot.