Cup win years in the making for Hope

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

Ben Hope has been heading to Westport’s Boxing Day meeting since before he could walk, so he was delighted to take out their local Cup on Monday behind Homebush Lad for his parents Greg and Nina.

“It was a huge thrill,” Hope said. “I know the Westport Cup is just a Country Cup, but to me it is a track I have been travelling to my whole life.

“Somebody was telling a story of how I was there in a pram, so I pretty much haven’t missed a year since I was a baby.

“It is a meeting I have always loved and to win the Westport Cup, and to go one better than last year, was awesome.”

Hope finished runner-up last year with Homebush Lad, who was able to avenge his loss one year on.

“It thought he we good well, I was just a bit worried about how the race might be run. Some of those small fields can be walk and sprints, and I was thinking it might not work out,” Hope said.

“I just thought I would creep up on that slow tempo and drive him for that one hit at them, and thankfully he kept to his guns and won well.”

The hospitality of the West Coast locals has been a driving force for Hope’s continued return to the circuit, where he celebrates the festive season.

“We go over on Christmas Eve, so give them (horses) plenty of time,” he said.

“You couldn’t meet nicer people and they are the reason I keep coming. I love the township and they are top people.”

Homebush Lad will now continue on the West Coast circuit before Hope returns to Canterbury on Thursday to drive at Motukarara Raceway, where he has labelled Blue Rock Dancer in the Mark Butterick Memorial Pace (2170m) as his best chance.

“Homebush Lad will go back 10m and that won’t be easy giving those horses that kind of headstart, but he will still be competitive. Although Cloudy Bay wasn’t far away, he beat the others pretty comfortably,” Hope said.

“Blue Rock Dancer has still got a little bit to learn, but he has got a motor and I think he will be my best drive there.”

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