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Paul Nairn is harness racing's most talented trainer of trotters in this country and last Friday night (October 16) the Leeston horseman picked up yet another group victory. Dr Hook made it seven wins from 18 starts, when in the hands of David Butt the son of Dr Ronerail kept many of the country's best squaregaiters at bay, winning the Group Three Canterbury Park Trotting Cup.

It was a typically fluent trotting performance in those famous colours that once belonged to the great Jack Litten and Caduceus.

Anthony Butt found the front very early on with Ray before conceding the lead to cousin David on board the loose favourite. The move posted Stylish Monarch three deep and desperately in need of a clear run in the home straight, but with slick sectionals of 57.7 and 28.6 it was left to Master Bomber to breach the gap, eventually falling short by a neck with Stylish Monarch closing well for third. With the race being run over 2600m this year, the first time since 1986, it wasn't hard for the winner to eclipse Basil Dean's former record of 3.22.4 set back in 1984, Dr Hook stopping the clock in 3.17.9.

David Butt has struck up a solid relationship with Dr Hook after replacing Jim Curtin. "It was a bit of shame for Jim really that he had that wrist problem," says Paul Nairn. "Jim was getting on good with the horse and he's just starting to become a bit more solid, but David's doing a good job with him now and will continue to drive him for as long as he wants." Butt and Nairn have combined to collect some pretty hefty ransoms over the years, Call Me Now, Above The Stars and Stig, as well as Kahdon have all won group one races with Butt in the sulky.

Nairn is loath to compare Dr Hook to any of the other great or even talented trotters he has trained in the past, preferring to let them simply perform to their merits. "I just train them and try to have them as good as I can get them, I don't make to many comparisons and leave it up to the horse to do his thing," Nairn said. A close relation to champion trotter Stig, Dr Hook will now head to Ashburton on Monday for the Trotters Flying Mile on a track that Nairn believe will suit the five year old. "The big track will be perfect for him, he'll get around the bends nicely and he's raced well over a mile before."

Credit: Steve Dolan writing in 19 Oct 2010

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