Manners key with Muscle Mountain
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
There just seems to be one chink in Muscle Mountain’s armour – his standing start manners.
It has been a mountain trainers Greg and Nina Hope have been trying to conquer and it is one they lost last start when the Muscle Hill five-year-old broke from his back mark, costing him all chance in his 2600m event.
However, Greg Hope is confident their charge will step away cleanly in the Gr.3 XCM Sport Canterbury Park Trotting Cup (2600m), and if he does Hope believes he is the one to beat.
TAB bookmakers agree with the Canterbury horseman and have installed Muscle Mountain a $2.70 joint favourite with Sundees Son.
“That (standing start) is the big issue but hopefully he will be fine,” Hope said.
“We would have liked to have drawn out a bit wider on the track, not the inside, but we are confident he will trot away.
“Ben (Hope, driver) will just keep him moving around at the start and want get him too relaxed. We think he will trot away.
“Sundees Son is always a worry but if he trots, he will give Sundees Son a good run for his money.
The Hopes will also contest the trotting feature with Midnight Dash and Enghein.
“Midnight Dash has come along in leaps and bounds since his last run,” Hope said.
“I think he has definitely improved but he is still going to find it hard to beat the main ones.
“I expect him to go another really honest race.
“Enghein is off the front and that is a big help for him. He should be pretty close to the pace and he might even have a go of leading up.”
Earlier on the card, last start placegetter King Of Love will attempt to add to his winning tally in the Continental Event Hire Handicap Trot (2600m).
“He has been trotting really great,” Hope said. “He is finding the line well so hopefully he finds the line as good on Friday.”
The Woodend Beach team will round out their night with Mossdale Terry in the First Direct Taxis Mobile Pace (1980m).
The gelding broke in the score up last time out losing all chance, but Hope believes he will be on his best behaviour on Friday with the addition of some gear.
“We will put shorteners on behind the gate on Friday so hopefully he should be fine,” Hope said. “He blew the start last time and we think the shorteners will help him.”