Hopes to extend legacy at Marlborough
By Jonny Turner
Junior driver Ben Hope will be out to do his family proud in their home region of Marlborough today.
Hope will drive first starter Awapuni for his parents, Greg and Nina, in the Four Generations Of Hopes Trot.
The 2400m maiden event is dedicated to Hope family’s contribution to harness racing in Blenheim.
And it is one the fourth generation of the family to contribute to the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s history would love to win.
“My Dad’s side are all from Blenheim, my granddad and my great granddad have all been involved with the club,” Ben Hope said.
“It would be great to win it.”
“The horse goes pretty good, she is only a maiden trotter, so she has to trot.”
“But, if she did she would be more than capable of taking it out.”
Awapuni is by Andover Hall from strong producing mare Lough Neagh, who is from the family of champion trotter Lyell Creek.
The 3yr-old looked like she had enough ability to live up to her breeding when winning a Methven workout by three lengths, earlier this month.
Greg, Nina and Ben Hope will step out another trotter with a strong pedigree when Baxter starts in today’s feature handicap trot.
The half-brother to star trotter Monbet comes in to the 2400m event after producing two wins and a second from three starts on the West Coast Christmas circuit.
Baxter steps up in grade to face his toughest test when taking on open class performers Amaretto Sun and Heavyweight Hero today.
“We will get a bit of a line of him to see where he sits with the better trotters,” Hope said.
“He has done a great job and he is always in the money.”
“Heavyweight Hero, Medusa and Amaretto Sun all go nice.”
Baxter will start from a 10m handicap, getting a head start on Amaretto Sun (45m) and Heavyweight Hero (35m).
The feeling in the Hope stable is that Baxter could eventually progress to join his main rivals in open class.
“He is the sort of horse that could get to open class, through the back door,” Hope said.
“I like the horse because he definitely wants to be a part of it and he tries.”
“He is not going to be a genuine open class horse, I don’t think.”
“But he could be one of those horses that gets there through the back door, like a horse like Everybody Knows.”
The Hope team have Homebush Lad in today’s feature handicap pace.
The 6yr-old bounced back to his best form ahead of the 2400m event with a strong win at Motukarara late last month.
“That win wasn’t a fluke, his starts before that were good, he is a pretty nice wee horse,” Hope said.
“There are a couple of smart ones in there, like Stars Tonight and Rocknroll Rod and a couple of others.”
“But if he can step away he is as good of a chance as any, I think.”
Homebush Lad will start from barrier one on the front line, alongside his main rivals Stars Tonight and Rocknroll Rod.
The Hope stable eight horses at today’s Marlborough meeting and each of their team looks to have genuine winning claims.
“There wouldn’t be one that is without a show.”
Greg and Nina Hope will start A G’s White Socks in tomorrow night’s Ballarat Cup.
The two time Interdominion heat winner will clash with fellow New Zealand pacer Self Assured.
Victorian reinsman Greg Sugars will drive A G’s White Socks in the group 1 feature.