Hope cracks the ton
By Michael Guerin
The first major milestone of Ben Hope’s driving career may be just the beginning.
But the 21-year-old admits unless he continues to improve he would be just as happy to hand the reins on stable runners to somebody else.
Hope drove his 100th winner behind one of his favourite horses in Midnight Dash at Addington on Thursday night, the pair overcoming a 30m handicap to win easily after Hope handled the four-year-old a treat.
That Midnight Dash could overcome the handicap comes as no surprise as he has been competitive in a four-year-old crop that looks full of open class horses and one of those is stablemate Muscle Mountain, who Hope drove to win at Addington last week and ultimately will be Ben’s drive longer term.
“It is almost a shame we have Muscle Mountain from that point of view cause I love driving this horse, he is a corker.
“But all going well with them both he will need another driver soon and that driver could end up on him at the Jewels, which is where they both will head.” It has taken Hope just three and a half years to get to 100 wins at a time when he is also part of the training team with parents Greg and Nina.
Originally he wanted to train and try his hand at driving but now he is the stable’s main driver as he has continued to improve.
“We still have Ricky driving for us but I am lucky that I do most of our driving now, with Ricky still very much part of the stable as obviously drives horses like A G’s White Socks.
“But I have had really good support and being on those better horses makes you a better driver. It helps with your confidence.” While Hope’s confidence is rightly high he is also realistic about his driving future.
“I want to keep driving and I enjoy it but I also realise not everybody is a Dexter Dunn or Blair Orange.
“So if I keep improving, which I have to, then I think I should keep driving but if I don’t then the stable can always assess that moving forward.
“But so far it is going well and I am happy to get to 100 in just over three years,” says the 21-year-old.
Hope says May has been a big help but says John Dunn has had the greatest influence on his career and driving style.
“Having Ricky around is great and I like discussing things with him but John is somebody who gives me advice and is always happy to answer my questions so I am very grateful to him.”