Hope pair bring speed to Sapling

By Jonny Turner

The speed bowl that is Ashburton Raceway is just the place for Greg and Nina Hope’s Sapling Stakes duo of Mossdale Ben and Celtic Spirit.

The pair bring winning form and start from key draws in the country’s first two-year-old group race of the season.

Mossdale Ben (3) downed several of his rivals when zooming home along the passing lane to win his last start at Addington.

The victory came after a shoeing change helped the pacer’s gait.

“We did a shoeing change on him and it really helped him,” Greg Hope said.

“He paced a bit rough in his first couple of goes and he lost his confidence a wee bit.”

“So we changed his shoeing and it has stopped him from cross-firing, it worked a treat so we have to give the credit to the blacksmith.”

Mossdale Ben took most of the Addington to wind up to top speed, suggesting he still has plenty to learn about racing.

“Definitely, but you would expect that from any two-year-old, really,” Hope said.

“He just goofs around, he is by Rocknroll Heaven, but he has thrown to the mother’s side.”

“He is a typical Bettor’s Delight.”

“I trained the mother, she is a full sister to Mossdale Conner and this guy has Mossdale Conner’s speed.”

Celtic Spirit (1) showed the same kind of turn of foot his stablemate did at Addington when he charged away from his opposition to win his debut.

The two-year-old then faded late after sitting parked in his next start in Mossdale Ben’s win.

The Hope stable think the pacer will strip fitter on Saturday.

“He should be a better horse on Saturday,” Hope said.

“We backed off him after he won his first race trying to look after him.”

“And we actually think he might have gotten away on us.”

“He probably just blew out the last 50m and he is probably better coming off a trail.”

Like Mossdale Ben and most of their inexperienced Sapling Stakes rivals, Celtic Spirit still has plenty to learn about racing.

“He is a horse that has only had one trial and two races,” Hope said.

“He just went straight off the place and had a two-year-old trial and then went straight to the races.”

“He is a horse that needs more ringcraft but he has got a good turn of foot and if he gets a nice trip he is a realistic show.”

Ben Hope drives Celtic Spirit on Saturday with Ricky May reuniting with Mossdale Ben.

The Ross Houghton trained Executive Banner looks the main threat to the Hope pair.

The two-year-old was runner-up to Mossdale Ben after leading in his last start.

Third placed Tide And Time, who was held up for much of the run home at Addington, also looks strong Sapling Stakes contender.

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