Hope stable out in force
By Jonny Turner
A busy Christmas and New Year racing period kicks off for trainers Greg and Nina Hope at Rangiora on Sunday.
The husband and wife training partners line up eight horses, before stepping out two more at Ashburton on Tuesday and a further eight at Westport on Boxing Day.
The Hope stable have a two pronged attack on Sunday’s feature race, the Rangiora Summer Cup.
Both Kendra and Homebush Lad are both strong chances, but will need more luck than they have received in their recent racing to win.
Kendra was knocked over in the Pacers Green Mile at Methven, before being caught parked throughout her last start at Addington.
Homebush Lad was unlucky in his last start when running out of room at the finish of Matt Damon’s Akaroa Cup.
Kendra is likely to be more favoured of the pair, but Homebush Lad should not be underrated, stable reinsman Ben Hope said.
“I think Kendra is the better horse, but I was pretty impressed with Homebush Lad last time.”
“Last week he felt like he was coming back to his best – like when he was second in the Kurow Cup – he feels like he is back to that form.”
“Kendra is a better chance and if she gets as good of a run she will probably beat him, but I thought Homebush Lad might have a bit of a chance.”
Hope drives Homebush Lad with Ricky May to steer Kendra.
Hope drove one of the of the leading chances in the race, Franco Niven, to win two starts ago.
Mossdale Rose resumes for the Hope stable alongside Spicy Girl Bequi in race 10.
The 4yr-old has a class edge over her rivals as a Southland Oaks placegetter.
However, she will need to step up from her efforts in recent trials to win.
“Her trials have been nice enough, I have been happy with them, but she probably needs to improve a little bit,” Hope said.
“But in saying that she has probably needed them.”
“If she brings her top for she is definitely as good as anything in that field.”
Hope drives Mossdale Art, with May to drive outside chance Spicy Girl Becqui.
The Hope stable also have a two-pronged attack on race 7 with Southerly Change and Alyssa Delight.
Southerly Change has produced two head-scratching starts since her impressive debut at Kaikoura.
The mare was caught wide at Ashburton and then battled after sitting parked at Addington.
“We thought at Addington she probably over raced after she tried to go to the lead,” Hope said.
“She is the type of filly that she goes nice, but she probably needs to get things her own way a little bit.”
“She has definitely got ability.”
May will drive Southerly Change from the 10m mark in Sunday’s standing start, with Hope to drive Alyssa Delight from the same mark.
Alyssa Delight has her first start since running fifth behind Yorkshire at Methven in October.
“She has got a bit of speed, hopefully we can step well enough to be handy and she will definitely be a chance,” Hope said.
Hope drives Krystal Delight, who starts from barrier 1 on the second row in race 4.
“If she drew the front line I would have said she would have been one of my best drives.”
“But, she is going to be relying on a bit of luck from the second row.”
The junior reinsman also drives Ever So Bettor, who has trialled well in the lead up to race 2.
The 5yr-old faces a big task to come from wide on the second row over 1950m.