Muscle Mountain blitzes rivals in race day return

By Jonny Turner

It took Muscle Mountain four strides to tell Australasian trotting fans he was back, and back in a big way.

The brilliant trotter returned to racing in the best possible style for trainers Greg and Nina Hope and driver Ben Hope when running to a fresh-up victory in the Group 3 Lamb and Hayward Trotters Classic at Addington on Friday night.

In those four strides, Muscle Mountain put paid to the favourite Oscar Bonavena as he strode to a stylish win.

Though his main rival was clearly not at his best, it took nothing away from Muscle Mountain’s stylish victory.

The win also came in the first start since Muscle Mountain wasn’t himself in the Group 1 Dominion in November.

And it served to clear the air regarding exactly where the big-striding trotter is at.

“I think that was a bit of a statement tonight, I think he has been a little bit of a forgotten horse through being out for a wee while,” Ben Hope said.

“People will definitely know he is back now.”

“We are looking forward to the campaign ahead and taking on those Aussies in a month’s time.”

Muscle Mountain showed one of his old tricks when cruising to victory on Friday night.

The trotter has made a habit of cruising when left alone in the lead late in his races and he did it again.

It will result in sliding blinds being added to Muscle Mountain’s gear ahead of the New Zealand Trotting Championship and TAB Trot at Cambridge on April 12 where he'll take on the likes of Just Believe and Queen Elida.

“He should improve off that run, we couldn’t be happier with everything really,” Hope said.

“The sliding blinds will go back on him, we are looking forward to the campaign ahead.”

Midnight Dash came out of the pack, chasing Muscle Mountain into second placing to seal a Hope stable quinella in Friday night’s Group 3.

Blood tests in the coming days are set to shed more light on Oscar Bonavena’s disappointing performance. The reigning Trotter of the Year pulled up with a high heart rate.

The Hope stable wasn’t the only Woodend Beach barn to star at Addington on Friday night.

Robert and Jenna Dunn produced four winners including Mighty Looee upset in the evening’s feature pace, the Tyre General Handicap Pace, paying $23.50 for the win. He was one of three winners on the night for John Dunn.

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