Is Muscle Mountain unbeatable in Trotting Championship?

By Jonny Turner

The biggest danger to Muscle Mountain in the Fred Shaw Memorial New Zealand Trotting Championship at Addington on Saturday could be himself.

The star trotter clearly looks the horse to beat in the Group 1 event and is set to start at red-hot odds in the vicinity of $1.20.

Muscle Mountain is such a clear-cut favourite that the biggest danger to his winning chances could be himself.

On occasion, the seven-year-old has goofed around when clear at the end of his races and been nabbed on the line.

With sharp gate speed and drawing barrier 1, the seven-year-old looks almost certain to be in front throughout Saturday’s feature and copping little pressure in the process.

Ben Hope goes into the event with a plan to keep his trotter’s mind on the job.

“At times I have tried to get easy runs with him and that has probably worked against him.”

“He is actually better off rolling along a decent tempo where he is comfortable.”

“We don’t have to go out there and break any records, but I think if he can roll along and keep him happy, that keeps him up to the task.”

“He has the sliding blinds back on this week, too.”

“Every time he has worn them he has sprinted up really well.”

Muscle Mountain turned heads first up at Addington a fortnight ago and the bad news for his rivals is that he hasn’t taken a backwards step yet.

“He seems perfect, we were really happy with how he came through his last run and he has worked really well since then,” Hope said.

Midnight Dash has drawn beside his star stablemate in barrier 2 and looks a genuine eachway threat in Saturday’s Group 1.

The trotter’s last start second to Muscle Mountain suggests he has come back better than he was in his last racing prep.

“He went a great race behind Muscle Mountain last time and we have been very happy with him.”

Though he hasn’t threatened at Group 1 level yet, Jimmy Carter looks set to get his shot to feature at the top level if he trails Muscle Mountain throughout from his draw in barrier 1 on the second row.

The trotter was solid in a middle-grade trot at Addington last week, won by race rival El Conqueror.

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