Muscle Mountain vs Oscar Bonavena - the rivalry resumes

By Jonny Turner

Ben Hope hopes logic doesn’t apply when Muscle Mountain returns to racing in the Group 3 Lamb and Hayward Trotters Classic at Addington on Friday night.

Muscle Mountain is set down for the first of several outstanding clashes with the horse who currently holds the title of New Zealand’s best trotter – Oscar Bonavena.

Logic says Oscar Bonavena should have the wood on Muscle Mountain this week given the All Stars trotter has the benefit of several runs over summer.

Muscle Mountain returns fresh up following his shock exit from the Group 1 Dominion with an atrial fibrillation.

After a short break, the star trotter returns to start his path towards reclaiming the top spot amongst New Zealand’s trotting ranks.

“We are rapt to have him back, it is like Christmas when you get to drive a horse like him,” Hope said.

“He seems really well and we are thrilled with the way he has come up.”

“Logically you would think that it is Oscar’s race to win, he has had the recent racing where whereas we are coming in fresh.”

“Our horse will improve, he will have this race then go to the NZ Trotting Champs and onto the slot race.”

“But I am sure that he is ready to go a very good race.”

Muscle Mountain has had two trials ahead of his return to square off with Oscar Bonavena on their 30m handicaps.

The big striding trotter has won both of them against very moderate opposition.

“His trials have been good, he wasn’t asked for much but he did feel really good each time,” Hope said.

Midnight Dash also steps out in Friday night’s trotting feature for the Hope stable.

The seven-year-old has the benefit of one run back, a third behind Eurokash late last month.

The Hope camp also start Mossdale Ben in Friday night’s feature pace.

The pacer has been solid recently without threatening.

Hope feels getting back on the front line, after chasing from off the pace should help the pacer.

“He has been going handy races and getting back on the front line looks a plus for him.”

“He should go a pretty good race.”

The Hopes also start Jack Tar and Celtic Spirit in race 4 on Friday night.

“They both look handy enough chances,” Hope said.

“It looks like a bit of a step up for Jack Tar but he has been going nice races.”

“Celtic Spirit is going the other way, they both should be handy enough top 4 chances.”



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