No rest for Hope after record-setting 2022
By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk
After a career best 2022 Ben Hope kicks off the New Year with a handy book of drives at Rangiora today.
The talented junior driver had 16 wins in December including Homebush Lad's Reefton and Westport Cup double, and trotting star Muscle Mountain's Group 1 triumph on Grand Prix day at Addington on December 4.
That helped his total for the year to 52, three more than his previous best recorded in 2021.
"To get to 50 was pretty cool and 52 is the best I've ever had," says Hope, "I've had a bit of luck and a lot of horsepower, so it's been good."
Today he doesn't have to venture far from his Woodend base, with six drives just down the road at Rangiora.
And success could well come early with $3 favourite Michael Caine in Race 2, the Friends of Rangiora Racecourse Mobile Pace.
The four-year-old has been knocking on the door of a maiden win with two seconds and a fifth in three career starts.
"I do like him," says Hope, "but he will improve with the run, and will definitely be the better for it."
He also fancies the place chances at least of the Don Burrows-trained Silverlinings in Race 5, the Canterbury Honda Mobile Trot.
"She's good from a mobile and could well be top three for sure."
"They are my best two chances."
The other Burrows runner he drives on the day is Noah Magnific in Race 9, while he'll also have his first raceday drive behind the Trent Yesberg-trained No Gee Ess Tee in Race 4 and then two for his parents Greg and Nina Hope.
"McCrikey (race 10) has a tricky draw but should go a good race."
"Westar Molly (race 6) is not the worst, it's a step down in class and she should be competitive."
The 10-race programme starts at 1.10pm.
As for Hope's targets for 2023?
He'd like to carry on the success he's had over the last 12 months but also "I'd really love to win another couple of big races with Muscle Mountain."