Summer Lovin fast but not faultless

By Jonny Turner

Summer Lovin was brilliant, but far from perfect on a night of emphatic performances at Addington on Friday night.

The Greg and Nina Hope trained two-year-old was on the way to one of the most impressive debut wins of the season before causing a stir by galloping in his final stride in race 1.

Summer Lovin put in such a powerful performance he was in no danger of losing the race on protest as his rivals were 10 lengths behind him in a contest of his own.

Summer Lovin’s victory, with Ben Hope in the sulky, confirmed two things.

Firstly, he still has plenty to learn about racing.

And secondly, that he has a seriously big motor.

“He switches on and switches off and was goofing around up the straight and that was why he galloped,” Greg Hope said.

“Ben had not even moved on him, but he doesn’t wear an overcheck and he got his head around a little bit.”

“We might have to put one on him now.”

Matua Tana produced the second impressive, but imperfect win for the Hope stable when overcoming an early gallop to outmuscle his rivals in race 9 with driver Gerard O’Reilly.

“Summer Lovin was a bit like Matua Tana, he just lost concentration,” Hope said.

“Gerard said it was a loss of concentration more than anything else that cause Matua Tana to gallop.”

Matua Tana has put himself on a one way path towards the Dominion during the New Zealand Cup carnival with a hat-trick of post-lockdown wins.

It’s hoped that kind of race will bring the best out in the big striding trotter.

“I think when the pace is on in the better races it will suit him,” Hope said.

“He won’t have the chance to knock off and muck around.”

Matua Tana has looked like a brutish stayer in his three emphatic recent wins.

But he is far from a grinding type, as his 27.6sec last 400m on Friday night would suggest.

“I don’t think people realise how fast he is – he has got the speed of a pacer,” Hope said.

“He could run a 26sec quarter [400m] with the pacers.”

While it is clear which big races Matua Tana will have in his sights, it is not the case for Summer Lovin.

The two-year-old is not eligible for the rescheduled Sires Stakes and NZB Standardbred Harness Million.

That means it is also unclear when Summer Lovin will be able to test his mettle against the best 2yr-olds that have stepped out during the country’s interrupted juvenile racing season.

“He is a nice horse, but Franco Jorik and Eurokash are too.”

“I wouldn’t like to choose between them at this stage, they are lovely horses.”

The Hopes will try to make the most of the two-year-old races that have been scheduled at Addington in the coming weeks with Summer Lovin.

Midnight Dash is eligible for both the three-year-old Sires Stakes and Yearling Sales Series races in November.

He showed he was firmly on track for those Alexandra Park events in October by filling a Hope stable quinella behind Matua Tana in Friday night’s feature 2600m handicap.

Nandolo produced an win at least as emphatic as Summer Lovin and Matua Tana’s victories when losing valuable ground at the start on Friday night’s feature pace.

Driver Jonny Cox showed lightning quick reactions behind the John Howe trained pacer to avoid Blair Orange, who was on the track after being tipped from the cart of Fabrizio, who locked wheels with Enchantee.

Nandolo recovered before going on to a powerful win race 7 in a close finish with Tango Tara.

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