Trotting maestro Paul Nairn on Grand Prix day - "winning is not going to be easy"

by Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

With big money and Group One glory at stake, Paul Nairn is understandably excited about harness racing's new Grand Prix at Addington on Sunday.

The 10-race programme has a big emphasis on the trotting gait and Nairn, who's known as a master conditioner of the square-gaiters, will line up six horses in four Group 1s, each worth $100,000.

"I'm pretty happy generally" he says of his team, "you target a meeting like this for five or six months, ever since the dates came out."

The Grand Prix features eight Group 1s with stakes of over $1m up for grabs across the day.

"But to win on this day is not going to be easy - and neither should it be."

Nairn's first starters are in Race 2, the Commodore Hotel Ace of Clubs 2YO Colts and Geldings Mobile Trot. He'll drive Confessional ($6.50) himself with top junior Sarah O'Reilly handling Tectonic ($15).

"Confessional has been going good races and is a good chance, while Tectonic has a good draw and his work's been good."

The hot favourite in the race is Gold Bullion ($1.85) who's won two from three for trainer-driver Bob Butt.

Bringing consistent placed form into Race 4 - the Pron8ure Probiotic NZ Derby Mobile Trot - will be Masterly ($7) and El Conqueror ($31).

"With Masterly sometimes his gait can deteriorate but he has the ability and El Conqueror is on the unruly and that makes it tough."

They are up against a field that includes the likes of favourite Highgrove - "he is very smart" - as well as Hot To Trot, Con Grazia Love, Hidden Talent and Double Delight.

The well-bred The Ivy League (Father Patrick - Habibti Ivy) is a $26 outsider in Race 6, the Canterbury Spa and Pool Ace of Hearts 2YO Mobile Trot for the 2YO fillies. The unbeaten High Energy ($1.70) is all the rage, while The Ivy League has one placing from five career starts.

"If she puts her best foot forward she's capable of being in the finish."

Even shorter than High Energy is Muscle Mountain ($1.30) in Race 8, the Livamol NZ Trotting Free For All.

Nairn's sole runner is giant trotter Matua Tana ($21).

"He's been running good races in the spring but missed away in the Dominion (won by Sundees Son).

"He has had some swelling in his leg but that's gone now and he's quite happy - he's the sort of horse that could run a good race and still finish fifth or sixth."

Nairn is not one to set targets on such a day but he remains forever optimistic.

"You can only hope you run good races and that's good enough."

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