Hopkins hoping for some magic this weekend

By Garrick Knight

It will be a case of one eye on the footy and one eye on his phone for Tate Hopkins on Friday night.

The West Auckland horseman, who trains in partnership with Frank Cooney, flew to Brisbane on Thursday to take in the ‘Magic Round’ of NRL where all eight games are played at Suncorp Stadium between Thursday night and Sunday.

“We got in this morning; there’s a group of us that came over together for the weekend; Luke Whittaker, Craig Smith, Scott Phelan arrives on Saturday.”

And while watching the Wests Tigers play the Penrith Panthers in the first half of Friday night’s double-header, he will be watching the TAB website on his phone to see how the stable’s three runners go at Alexandra Park.

Of particular attention will be the horse part-owned by his wife, Tiffany, Carrera Sky.

The pint-sized pacer is having his third start from his new ‘digs’ after Hopkins organised to buy him cheaply out of Doug Gale’s Bulls stable in March.

Two creditable runs for minor placings at Cambridge have prepared him for this week’s $20,000 R40-49 event, but a wide draw has Hopkins lamenting.

“He’s training really well and is right where I would like him.

“It’s the third start in a row we’ve had to cop a bad draw so Alicia (Harrison) is going to have to drive him for a bit of luck.

“Hopefully he can get a drag in to it and, if he does, I think he’ll make his presence felt.”

With Maurice McKendry committed to The Stunning Nun and Whittaker, who has driven the horse at its last two starts, in Brisbane, Hopkins turned to Harrison.

“I owed her a drive after what happened last time,” he joked, referring to the last time Harrison pulled on the stable colours.

Back in August, when driving an unruly Its Official Babe, Harrison was kicked in the foot, breaking it, and had to spend two months on the sideline.

Gold Class is a progressive mare that tackles a $20,000 R40-60 event for junior drivers and Hopkins is hopeful of a forward showing in the hands of Benjamin Butcher.

She got caught back on a sprint home last week, premier night, and faces a drop in company this week over the 2700 metres.

“It was a really good run and she hasn’t done anything wrong this time in.

“We’re expecting a very good performance and it would be nice to pick up a penalty free win.

The half-sister to Five Star Anvil and Lets Elope didn’t debut until this, her four-year-old campaign, but it was worth the wait, her co-trainer reckons.

“She just took a bit of time for everything to click but she’s going along nicely now.”

Rounding out the team is the maiden filly, Betterbebetter, who impressed on debut when running a close-up third behind Havtime in a Fillies Series Heat at Cambridge last month.

She’s drawn well at three but faces a field of predominantly colts and geldings.

“She’s a nice wee filly, just still a bit green at this stage and we’ll be happy if she runs a nice race in that field.”

Hopkins has no hesitation in labelling Gold Class the stable’s best bet of the weekend, and suggests a multi with his favoured South Sydney Rabbitohs might be the order of the weekend.

“I don’t support those useless Warriors, that’s for sure.”

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