Hope’s run continues
By Jonny Turner
Junior driver Ben Hope’s winning trot continued at Oamaru yesterday with Easy Pickings.
Easy Pickings nosed out runner-up She’s Allthe Craze to win race 9, the Oamaru meeting’s feature 2600m trot.
After disappointing in his last start when forced to do mid-race work, Hope saved the Quite Easy trotter for one late run.
Easy Pickings sustained a long sprint from the 700m to score by a head at the finish.
“He has got a bit of speed and he has got a lot of gate speed too,” Hope said.
“In this grade he is really competitive, but in the next one he has to take his turn until he drops back.
“He would suit racing in Australia.”
Hope’s win with Easy Pickings backed up his highly impressive victory at Addington with Muscle Mountain On Friday night.
The four-year-old, trained by the driver’s mother and father, Greg and Nina Hope, produced an outstanding performance when beating top class trotters in his first attempt in free-for-all company despite sitting parked throughout.
“We were rapt, he went super,” Hope said.
“Majestic Man probably raced below where he usually can, but at the end of the day he still had to do it.”
Hope reported Muscle Mountain has pulled up well after digging deep for his tough victory.
“He is probably a bit tired, but he hasn’t shown any signs of it.”
“We try to look after him between his races because he tries so hard and takes so much out of himself.”
The Hope camp will be relying on a good boost to Muscle Mountain’s ranking for the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All from his Addington win.
The 1980m group 1 feature is the trotter’s main spring aim.
Muscle Mountain was ranked 20th, five spots out the field in the latest rankings for the event.
The Hope stable are not planning to start their four-year-old before the New Zealand Cup day feature.
If the horse does not leap frog others in to the race when the rankings are updated this week, Muscle Mountain could also gain a start when other horses ranked above him withdraw.
The Hope team’s current plan would see their horse bypass the Ashburton Trotters Free-For-All and South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura.
“I would say he will have one trial before cup week and then go in to the free-for-all on Cup day,” Hope said.
“He won’t go to Ashburton, he has been there three or four times and galloped every time.”
“He has only raced there once, but he has also trialled there.”
The Oamaru meeting’s feature pace, race 8, was taken out Under Wraps for trainer Graham Court and driver Blair Orange.
Under Wraps dropped in to the 2600m mobile after clashes with smart types at Addington in his recent starts.
Those efforts have helped to strengthen the Terror To Love four-year-old.
“It was a good win – he is getting tougher all the time,” Court said.
Under Wraps’ victory brought up a winning treble for Orange, who also won race 1 with Aristocrat and race 2 with Western Bliss.