Husband and wife harness racing trainers Greg and Nina Hope achieved a notable milestone at today's Geraldine Trotting Club meeting when registering 100 training wins as a partnership.
Their 100th winner came courtesy of a superb drive by underrated junior driver Samantha Ottley who steered Hot Pepper to victory in today's Junior Drivers event. The long-shot winner is one of twenty in work at Greg and Nina's Woodend beach training establishment, situated directly across the road from another successful husband and wife duo, Dave and Cath Butt.
The Hopes shifted from their West Melton property just over two years ago in pursuit of a alternative training approach for existing and prospective clients. "Essentially I was pre-training and breaking horses in," said Greg Hope. "We had a small band of owners and the only way of increasing our client base was to offer something different." The shift has come at a cost with the Hopes being badly affected by the earthquake. "Our house is a write-off but it may be a blessing in disguise getting a new house, but the whole experience has been pretty stressful on the whole family." Greg Hope today became a triple centurion, the long-time harness racing stockman has driven over 130 winners while also training 108 winners in his own right before completing the treble in cahoots with wife Nina.
Ironically today's winner Hot Pepper is raced by Wayne and Connie Stewart, the same owners who raced Eyreton Bay, a half brother who provided Greg and Nina Hope with their first winner as a training partnership. "The dam Blondini has done a super job at stud. Run Baby Run and Urban Angel won five, while Cullini has won seven," Hope says.
Training partner Nina Hope is the rock that binds the family together, the quiet achiever going about her business dividing her time between Mum of two and co-trainer of a busy racing stable. "I'd rather be known as a top Mum than a top trainer," she says. "I know it's important to be successful in business, but the family comes first." The Hopes have two boys, Ben is eleven and attends Woodend school, but is set to move on next year, whilst Tom is five and goes to Waikuku. Nina was impressed with the manner in which junior driver Sam Ottley handled Hot Pepper today and is hopeful of giving the talented reinswomen further opportunities. "She has a bit of confidence and the horses tend to run for her, so hopefully we can give her more drives."
The feature race of the day, the Geraldine Cup, was won by the Kevin Chapman trained Minty Mellow. At long odds the son ofcapitilised on a perfect trip in the trail provided by Ashburton reinsman Patrick O'Reilly, scoring by a length and a half from Joshua Mac with a neck away to third placed Mr Chrome.
Top Sire:3 wins.
Top Trainer: 10 trainers from 10 races.
Top Driver: Blair Orange 2 wins.
Top Junior Driver: Samantha Ottley 1 win.
Results from the Geraldine Trotting Club's meeting held at Orari today (Saturday) were:
Race 1: The John Hay trained and driven THE REAL MCGUIRE ().
Race 2: The Robbie Holmes trained NIMROD () Shane Walkinshaw.
Race 3: The Terry May trained TEN DIAMONDS () Jim Curtin.
Race 4: The Peter and Leonie Jones trained WEE BROTHER () Blair Orange.
Race 5: The Jim Curtin trained and driven CHAL DREAM ().
Race 6: The Kevin Chapman trained MINTY MELLOW () Patrick O'Reilly.
Race 7: The Mark Jones trained and driven GUADELOUPE ().
Race 8: The Greg and Nina Hope trained HOT PEPPER () Sam Ottley.
Race 9: The John Howe trained BEAT THE MONARCH () Terry Chmiel.
Race 10: The Kevin Fairbairn trained MAGICAL MEL () Blair Orange.