Muscle Mountain at short odds at Addington tonight

By Michael Guerin

Ben Hope isn’t where he wants to be tonight and his favourite horse Muscle Mountain isn’t there either.

But he expects the outstanding trotter to get a compensation victory in the $27,500 Continental Event Hire Trot at Addington tonight.  Currently he's at $1.20 to win. 

How different things could have been for the pair as Muscle Mountain was targeting the Great Southern Star at Melton, also run tonight, until a cold set back his preparation and ultimately saw a change of programme.

“It was just niggly,” says Hope, who drives the wonderful trotter for parents Greg and Nina.

“He got a cold that cost him a lead-up race and some work and we decided not to take him but of course I’d love to be there.

“I hope Majestic Man can win it for the Williamsons but I’d love to be there and the timing has been disappointing.”

With the setback Muscle Mountain goes into tonight’s race, his first since jogging home in the NZ Trotting Free-For-All on December 4, without a trial but over 1980m mobile and with his gate speed he should roll to the front and win.

Hope is having a golden summer and thinks the stable has two big chances in Race 9 tonight where he thinks Celtic Spirit can lead but stablemate McCrikey could be the smokey.

“I worked him on Wednesday morning and he worked well so if he trails he can go close too.”

Forward efforts are expected from Maria Allegonda (Race 1) and Eurokash in race 3 while Michael Caine gets a good draw in race 4.

Hope has Latrell, who he trains, in the junior driver’s trot (Race 6) and he is showing plenty of promise but Hope has words of warning for punters.

“He has a wide draw and I think I might go back at the start because I think that is how he is best driven at this stage.

“That could mean he settles a fair way off a nice horse like Martha Stuart with a good driver in Sarah O’Reilly on so that is my biggest concern there.”

Tonight’s main handicap pace sees the return of iron horse Laver but up against some race-hardened rivals including Heisenberg, Mighty Looee and Henry Hubert from the other Dunn stable.

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