Racing: Nairn hopes Stig will put best foot forward

By Michael Guerin

Stig has been given one more chance for a comeback.  Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Stig has been given one more chance for a comeback. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Trotting's comeback hero is to be given one more chance to conquer his final frontier.

Trainer Paul Nairn believes Stig can capitalise on that opportunity.

The remarkable 10-year-old has been an expensive failure in two Australian starts in recent weeks, failing to handle the looser track surfaces at Menangle and Melton.

That has seen Stig trot roughly in both starts and Nairn all but gave up on his debut Australian campaign, until a morale-boosting private workout on Tuesday.

After a shoeing change the big trotter worked at least as well, if not better, than Vulcan, who Nairn is caretaker trainer for. "On that workout he deserves another shot at things over here," he told the Herald.

Stig will get that shot from a second-line draw in tomorrow night's A$125,000 Australian Trotting Grand Prix in Melton, with a new driver.

"I drove him last week and drove him poorly so I have put Gavin Lang on this week," said Nairn.

"His issues so far have been twofold. I don't think he has handled the tracks over here as well as he does Alexandra Park while his shoeing wasn't right.

"We have been shoeing him differently to try and help with his soundness and it worked at home but they don't give him enough grip overhere.

"But he seemed a lot better on Tuesday."

With arch rival I Can Doosit off the scene injured, Stig is the best trotter racing in Australasia but such are the complexities of the gait that even being slightly off your game tends to lead to defeat.

Tomorrow night's race will be crucial because if Stig performs well Nairn will give him his shot at the A$350,000 Great Southern Star series at Melton on Saturday week.

That series sees two heats of 10 trotters race early on Saturday night before a final for the top five in each heat two hours later.

It is based on the Elitlopp concept which is the centrepiece of Scandinavian trotting and is the latest step in Harness Racing Victoria's moves to give open-class trotters more parity with their pacing cousins.

With Stig being such a fairytale story after coming back from three years of retirement to break two New Zealand records, he would be the dream drawcard for next week's inaugural running.

There will still be plenty of other Kiwis there, though, with Vulcan, Sovereignty and The Fiery Ginga all set to contest tomorrow night's race as well as the Great Southern Star.

Such is the high regard Stig is held in that even after costing Australian punters a fortune he is the $4 favourite for tomorrow's group one, ahead of I Didn't Do It, Vulcan and Sovereignty.

- NZ Herald

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