Celtic Spirit big hope in Ashburton Cup

By Jonny Turner

The family combination of Greg, Nina and Ben Hope has been on fire recently and it looks set to continue on Ashburton Cup Day.

In racing terms, the trio have been running hot on Canterbury racetracks.

The Hopes will be out to keep up their outstanding form by winning the Ashburton Cup with Celtic Spirit on Saturday.

Celtic Spirit will head into the revamped feature at the right time.

A noted sprinter, the race’s 2400m distance – changed from its traditional 3200m trip – looks perfect for the four-year-old.

“He is probably more of a 1980m horse at this stage but you would have to say the 2400m looks pretty suitable for him,” Ben Hope said.

“He is off the front which is a help and he has been going some great races.”

“We are pretty happy with him and we are hopeful he can go another nice race.”

Celtic Spirit is a standing start novice with just one go from behind the tapes.

The Hope camp is hopeful the pacer can begin well after making a tidy beginning in his first attempt at Nelson.

“I wouldn’t say he is a certainty to go away but I’d like to think he is a good chance to get it right,” Hope said.

The Hope stable line up another strong chance at Ashburton on Saturday in Maria Allegonda in race 4.

The mare comes into her maiden assignment after running placings in her last two starts, with both coming from tricky draws.

Barrier 5 looks a very workable spot for Maria Allegonda on Saturday.

“She has been running some nice races and from the draw hopefully we will be able to push forward and get handy.”

“I would like to think that whatever beats her will win it, put it that way.”

The Hope stable also start Krystal Delight in race 8 on Saturday.

The mare takes on a smart line up after rising in the ratings following a recent win and she may require some luck from barrier 7.

Silverlinings looks the big threat among Ben Hope’s outside drives at Ashburton on Saturday.

The Don Burrows trained mare heads into race 9 on the back of a tidy second at Addington.

Getting back behind the mobile looks a big plus for the trotter who takes on an even line up.

“She went a good race at Addington and with it being a mobile again that is a big help for her.”

“She looks like a pretty good eachway chance.”

Hope also combines with the Burrows-trained Rollie In Shot in race 1.

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