Reasons to smile for Hope
By Michael Guerin
Greg Hope had two open class reasons to smile yesterday.
And that could mean the long wait for champion trotter Monbet to return to the track is almost over.
Hope not only trains Monbet but New Zealand Cup contender A G’s White Socks and both are coming off setbacks of wildly different lengths.
Monbet hasn’t raced for 23 months after an array of leg issues while A G’s White Socks was dragged off the track just minutes before Sunday’s Methven Cup after soft tissue damage believed to have been suffered in a raceday slip.
But the news is good for both.
Monbet made one of his first public appearances since winning the Dominion at the Cup carnival two years ago when Hope snuck him on to the Rangiora track for a workout yesterday.
There was nothing official about it, with Monbet working solo over 2600m but it was as good as a trial and a massive step in the right direction.
He trotted 3:24 for 2600m, his last 800m in 60 seconds and final 400m in 28 and most importantly pulled up sound.
It was nice work and showed he is ready for a trial next week and then the races at Addington on November 2,” said Hope.
“After that, all going well, we will aim him at the Trotting Free-For-All on Cup Day (November 13).”
Hope and his wife Nina pulled Monbet out of the Dominion, New Zealand’s richest trotting race on November 17, because they believe they couldn’t get enough competitive miles into his legs in time for the gutbusting 3200m.
“And we want to do the right thing by the horse. He has won it before and it is a long season so we didn’t want to rush him.”
A G’s White Socks is improving steadily after his weird setback on Sunday and has accepted for Monday’s Flying Stakes at Ashburton and looks 90 per cent likely to start.
“What happened last Sunday was very strange. I actually worked him the morning of the race and he was great then we put him away for a while before taking him to the races.
“During that break I think he must have slipped and hurt himself a little bit. There was no sign of it at the races until he started to warm up and we had to pull him off the track.
“But I am confident we are over that now and can still get the racing into him he needs for the New Zealand Cup.”
Monday’s 2400m stand looks the most important New Zealand Cup lead-up of the season so far with many of the big namesheadlined by Dream About Me (barrier 1), Eamon Maguire (2), Ultimate Machete (7) and Star Galleria (8), with A G’s White Socks to start from barrier nine if he makes the race.
In the Flying Mile for the trotters Harriet Of Mot (barrier 2, but likely to start to one) and Great Things Happen (likely barrier 2) have got the best of the draws in what is traditionally New Zealand’s fastest open class trotting mile.