Emotional win for Hopes in Trotting Championship

By Jonny Turner

Muscle Mountain’s pure power paved the way for his emotionally charged win in the Fred Shaw Memorial Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Championship at Addington on Saturday.

Greg, Nina and Ben Hope produced the star trotter for arguably his most emphatic Group 1 triumph just four days after the passing of their mother and grandmother, Mary Hope.

Just how much the win meant to the Hope family was clear to see as Muscle Mountain returned to the Addington winner’s circle.

As did the emotion in Ben Hope’s voice as he paid tribute to his Nana.

“She was a huge follower of mine, arguably probably my biggest supporter,” the reinsman said.

“She never missed a race meeting, watching on TV, and she would message me after every race meeting.”

“I will be forever thankful for her for all her support and this was definitely for her.”

Many pre-race theories flew out the window when Muscle Mountain was crossed and then denied the lead by Majestic Man early in Saturday’s feature.

The situation only meant Muscle Mountain was able to deliver a more crushing victory, where he sat parked and smashed his rivals.

“To be honest, he can sit parked,” Hope said.

“Not many horses can do that, but at his level, it doesn’t matter where he is.”

“Parked isn’t a bad position for him, to be fair.”

Muscle Mountain will now head to Australasia’s most anticipated trot in several seasons – the TAB Trot on April 12 – on the best possible note.

The winner’s stablemate Midnight Dash was solid, running into third when clear in the run home, ahead of his slot race tilt.

Mystic Max ran the best race of his career in open company when charging out of the pack for a big Group 1 second behind Muscle Mountain.

Jonny Cox provided the star turns in the pacing ranks at Addington on Easter Saturday.

Cox found the right run for Alta Meteor who stormed home for a deserved win in the Group 3 Autumn Free-For-All.

The pacer drew inside his stablemate Ohoka Connor (4th) and Cox made the most of that advantage as the pair stormed home from the rear.

“We got a good run today and we managed to be in front of Ohoka Connor and outsprint him.”

“I had faith in my fellow, his trackwork has been super, he’s got a great turn of foot and he showed that today,”

Cox later produced his rising star Pinseeker for a big win over a quality intermediate grade field in just his sixth career start.

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