Muscle Mountain primed for mile

By Jonny Turner

Trotting fans can expect to see the real Muscle Mountain at Addington on Friday night.

The star squaregaiter will be out to resume normal transmission after a miss-step saw him take no part in Sundee’s Son’s million-dollar celebrations last week.

Greg Hope, who trains in partnership with wife Nina, took a calculated gamble with the five-year-old last week as he manages Muscle Mountain’s Group One autumn campaign.

But this week the trainer will go back to the tried and true.”

“He will be fine – he is having three runs in a month and I was just trying to see what I could get away with and I had him a bit on the fresh side,” Hope said.

“He is always a horse that we have had to do a little bit with on the day of the races, or the day before, just to keep him settled.”

“I just thought I could train him like the others last week and he was just too above himself.”

The most important thing for punters is that the Hope barn couldn’t be happier with where Muscle Mountain is at physically.

Their only concern is drawing wide in barrier 6 from always tricky mile starting point at Addington.

“We are really happy with him, he is trotting super and he is in a good space.”

“Starting right on the point of the bend is a concern, it is not ideal but in saying that he is a lovely gaited trotter.”

“So he should handle it as good as gold.”

Drawing barrier 3 gives Midnight Dash a huge advantage over his stablemate in Friday night’s mile free-for-all.

With the trotter running great races, he won’t get a better chance to push Muscle Mountain and Oscar Bonavena, who starts out in barrier 7.

“You’d think he would settle in front of Muscle Mountain at the start.”

“It will be interesting how it plays out – you couldn’t never predict what is going to happen from that start point.”

Ricky May substitutes for Ben Hope behind Muscle Mountain with Matthew Williamson to drive Midnight Dash.

May also takes the reins behind the in-form McCrikey in race 10.

“He has been really good, he has won three of his last four and he has drawn the pole.”

“He is not going to have to do any work, he has been racing really well and hopefully he will put his best foot forward.”

Luella looks a place and First4 hope for the Hope-Williamson combination in race 11.

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