Huge test for Hope's star trio
By Michael Guerin
Greg Hopes says Friday night at Addington is when the talk stops.
Hope and wife Nina take their three stable big guns to the premier meeting but as good as A G’s White Socks, Midnight Dash and Muscle Mountain are they are up against it what, on paper at least, are even better horses.
A G’s White Socks faces three of the four biggest names in New Zealand pacing in Amazing Dream, Spankem and Self Assured in the $30,000 Leefield Station Wines Free-For-All while Hope’s two four-year-old trotters take on Sundees Son and Bolt For Brilliance among others in the $30,000 Lamb And Hayward Trotters Classic.
The two trotters in particularly have looked top open class horses in the making but Hope says this Friday will be the test.
“The talk stops now, we are going to find out how good they are,” says Hope.
“We know they are both top horses who could win a really good race one day but Sundees Son is that horse already and we know how good Bolt For Brilliance is.
“So it is a really top field and it will be a great guide for us heading forward.”
Hope says Muscle Mountain is the more brilliant of his pair, which is why son Ben has chosen to drive him over the very in-form Midnight Dash, who Tim Williams will partner.
“Midnight Dash has been going great races and I was saying to his owners the other day he could be like Quite A Moment, a horse who can race at the highest level for quite a few seasons and big up a really big race.
“And Muscle Mountain has that real touch of brilliance. So we are happy with both ours but we are only getting 10m from Sundees Son so it should tell us where we stand.”
The Hopes, and everybody else in harness racing, knows how good A G’s White Socks is but even in a five-horse field on Friday he worries about tactics.
“They are all good horses and I am not sure whether they will go off the gate and run or settle straight into single file and just sprint home so it could be a tricky race.” A G’s White Socks has only had two starts back this campaign and while he only ran third behind Henry Hubert last start he was clocked at 2:53 for his last 2400m on Stridemaster.
“So he is going well and can be a factor in these races the next couple of meetings but he is just going to need some luck.”