Paul Nairn - The Master

** Canterbury trainer Paul Nairn almost exclusively prepares trotters.

** He is one of the most respected trainers in Australasia with even his most successful peers often in awe of his feats and methods.

** All 344 of his career wins in New Zealand have been with trotters

** He has won trotting’s Triple Crown — the Inter Dominion Final, Dominion and Rowe Cup.


By Michael Guerin

Most in-depth conversations with Paul Nairn about the minutiae of training trotters end up peppered with “I don’t understand, can you explain that.”

 So when you enquire n as to how freakish last-start Dominion winner Habibi Inta and stablemate Ronald J are heading into tomorrow night’s Inter Dominions at Alexandra Park you have to be prepared for the unusual.

 Habibi Inta thrashed the best trotters in the country and a couple of Aussies so pointlessly in the Dominion 13 days ago he only needs to near that form to win the opening heat of the Inters tomorrow night.

 If he races right up to that Dominion demolition the $2.20 TAB fixed odds will be an early Christmas present.

 So the good news for punters is Habibi Inta feels almost as good in his work this week as he did before the Dominion, thanks in no small way to the fact Nairn’s temporary northern base is close to the Glenbrook steel mill.

Sorry, I don’t understand, can you explain that to me.

 “Because I needed to get some new top on the track I use when I stay up here because there are no horses trained here at the moment,” explains Nairn.

“It used to be Bernie Hackett’s old place and it was well set up and then a galloping trainer was based here but nobody trains here any more so the track wasn’t the best.

 “So I ordered in a big load of top for the track and it was actually quite cheap to get it done because where we are is only 2kms from the steel mill where you buy the stuff from.

 “It is very good, like crusher dust so the track is better now.”

 That is handy, since a track is a fundamental part of training most horses and you don’t really want one of the favourites for the Interdoms short of work.

Which Habibi Inta isn’t, cause Nairn was thrilled how he worked 3200m in 4:27 on Tuesday, work that felt close to his pre-Dominion training.

 “Well, it was close to 3200m. But I am not sure because I don’t really know how big the track is here,” says Nairn nonchalantly.

 Um, I don’t understand.

“Well, the track is supposed to be 800m but I think it is 790, or maybe even 780m. I haven’t measured it yet.

 “But don’t worry about that. His work was very good and he feels right.“And the track is good, it has a little hill on it and my horses seem to love it.”So Ronald J worked well too then?

 “Actually no, I haven’t been working him. I just ride him.”Ok, you are going to have to explain that to me.

 “Well I worked him last Thursday and he worked really well so I decided to bring him up for the series to.

“But I have been riding him rather that working him. Sometimes twice a day for about 20 minutes and it really makes them sweat. So he seems good.”

 So you never work your two Inter Dominion trotters together?

 “Well, I only brought one cart (sulky) up,” explains Nairn.

 Oh, that makes perfect sense then.

 Oddities aside the bottom line is both horses have travelled well, settled in and are eating well and Habibi Inta pleased the boss in trackwork on Tuesday.

 Which means the big horse must be trotting squarely, such an important factor for trotters and one that proves their all-important shoeing is spot on.

 “Yeah, he worked really well. But actually I worked him without shoes.

 “His other pair were wearing out so I worked him without them and then re-shod him after so he should be good to go for the whole series now.”
Um, ok. Actually, ah… no, don’t worry.

 Nairn seems to know what he is doing. He has since way before Call Me Now won him his first Inter Dominion back in 1995, a season in which he had only 40 starters for 22 winners.

Because in Paul Nairn’s unusual little world, if they aren’t good enough or ready enough, they don’t start.

 So don’t sweat it. Just take the $2.20 tomorrow night and enjoy the ride.


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