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One of the feature harness racing meetings of the season away from Addington and Alexandra Park comes up on Saturday when the age group pacers and trotters strut their stuff at Ashburton. The pacers have the time honoured Sapling Stakes for two year olds which was first run in 1919 while the three year old trotters have their first group race of the season with the Hambletonian Classic. Only established in 1986, the Hambletonian Classic is always a sought after race and it is no different this year with a field of real quality. The All Star barn have three of the favoured runners with the best of them Prince Fearless drawing nicely at one and looking hard to roll while Speeding Star, the winner of his last four from the Dickie barn gives the North Island a strong hand. However we think the one they all have to beat this weekend is last seasons two year of the year in Monbet. Monbet was so dominant on Harness Jewels day at Cambridge and looks to have come back even better at three barring a last start hiccup. Bred by Greg and Nina Hope and raced by them with long time stable client Michael Molloy, Monbet was on track until his recent run at Marlborough. " The track at Marlborough is really quite hard and he just didn't handle it at all" "He is not the first horse I have taken there who didn't handle the track so just turn the page and move on," Greg told Harnesslink today. Taken back to their Woodend base by the Hopes, Monbet was produced at the workouts last Wednesday just to give him a run after Marlborough. " We were thrilled with the run at Rangiora as we weren't there for a serious hitout." We ran second by half a length to Prince Fearless in a 1:59.8 mile rate without  knocking him about."  "He has trained on good since then so we are on track for Saturday," Greg said. The wide draw of seven is not the best but Greg thinks it could work out in their favour in the long run. " There is a lot of speed inside of us with Sunny Ruby, Prince Fearless and Speeding Star so I think there could be real fireworks early." "Monbet has got high speed so he can get over them late if they go hard early," Greg said. Greg is quite taken by the stock of Love You. " A lot of people reckon they are as tough as but lack a bit of high speed but Monbet has speed to burn" " I have a two year old in the non tote on Saturday as well by Love You and he has got plenty of speed as well," Greg said. If the Monbet that won the Harness Jewels turns up on Saturday, then he is going to be mighty hard to beat. Harnesslink Media  

The Go Harness team have syndicated a lot of horses over the last few years but tonight was a bit of a watershed as they sold the first horse they ever syndicated.  Franco Harrison was the first horse that they syndicated after they brought him from Spreydon Lodge for $60,000. Placed with Cran Dalgety initially, Franco Harrison was ultra consistent early in the piece and gave the syndicate members a lot of thrills. However he was troubled by feet issues over time and his form dropped away which resulted in a transfer to the Greg and Nina Hope stable at Woodend Beach where it was hoped the beach training would help him get over his issues. While he did show glimpses of the old Franco Harrison with the highlight a five length win at Kaikoura in November, he was still a touch inconsistent. The syndicate had a condition that it was to be wound up after a set period and even though that period was extended  by syndicate boss Noel Kennard, the decision was made recently to fulfill the obligation to sell Franco Harrison at public auction to wind up the syndicate. Hence tonight at Addington after race two Franco Harrison was auctioned by PGG Wrightson auctioneer Peter Lagan and he was snapped up by leading amateur driver Mike Maynard for a paltry $1500. Mike was surprised that he picked him up for such a cheap price. " I thought he would go for a lot more than $1500" " I had a few mates set up to come in and race him with me but at $1500 I might just race him myself." " He can go round in the amateur races for now but he can always go back in claimers if he wins his way out of those races," Mike said. Aware that Franco Harrison has had his shares of issues with his feet, Mike is going to place Franco Harrison with Brad Mowbray at Yaldhurst. "Brad has a pool so that will help hopefully with his feet, Mike said. The Go Harness team have done a fantastic job introducing new people into the harness racing industry but maybe they should have another look about how they wind up their syndicates. Harnesslink Media  

A couple of harness racing trainers who were happier than most to hear of Adore Me's attack on the Victoria and Hunter Cups were Greg and Nina Hope. It has been quite frustrating for the Woodend based couple to repeatedly line their star mare Helena Jet up against Adore Me over the last 12 months and know deep down that Adore Me had the wood on them. Helena Jet's last three runs against Adore Me have resulted in a second in the $150,000 Harness Jewels at Cambridge, a second in the $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes at Alexandra Park and a second in the $100,000 Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park so to not have to face Adore Me in the $40,000 Garrards Premier Championship at the end of the month brought a smile to co-trainer Greg Hope's face when he spoke to Harnesslink today. "Adore Me is just a champion and arguably the best horse in the country so for her to be in Australia gives us a real chance." "Helena Jet has been going great races lately but Adore Me is a champion," Greg said. Sent south to contest the Oaks and Nevele R final as a three year old by her northern owners, Helena Jet failed to impress Greg when he first worked her. " She works like an average maiden at home and even now her work is not that flash." "I wasn't that confident when I first took her to the races at Addington." "Ricky May (driver) told me afterwards that she warmed up poorly as well but soon as she turned to get on the gate in the score up she was all business." "She went 1:54.9 that night and I knew then that she was everything her owners said she was," Greg said. Greg is confident that the daughter of Jeremes Jet is ready to step up in the the absence of Adore Me. "She is a ferocious competitor when she gets out on the track." "She can get really keen so we use a colt bit on her to make her a bit easier to control," Greg said. While several other runners such as Lancewood Lizzie and Venus Serena will have their admirers, the performances of Helena Jet behind Adore Me over the last few months means she is the one they all have to beat on January 30th at Addington. Harnesslink Media

There are not many harness racing meetings at Nelson that don't have a big representation from the Greg and Nina Hope barn at Woodend and yesterday was no exception. Originally from Nelson, Greg especially seems to target meetings there and Greg and Nina have a great record over the years at the Richmond track. When you then add the champion driver Ricky May to the mix you have a lethal combination as evidenced yesterday when the Hope / May partnership won five of the eleven races on offer. Ricky May was quick to deflect all the praise to Greg and Nina when spoken to by Harnesslink this morning. " They are great trainers to drive for as you know their horses are going to be spot on when you drive for them." " It makes my job so much easier when the horses are turned out like Greg and Nina do them," Ricky said. Ricky knew going to Nelson that he had a top book of drives as he had driven most of the team at trials and races leading into yesterdays meeting. So here is Ricky's assessment of the five winners he drove yesterday. Arizona Atom  " He is a really nice horse that I thought would be tough to beat. He trialed super at Methven last weekend so I knew he was ready. He is still a bit green and inexperienced so I think he will just keep getting better." Usain Colt "Very similar to Arizona Atom and is another horse I have a wee bit of time for. I drove him when he qualified and I liked him then. He has a bit of raw speed and I think he could go a fair way" Monbet " He has come back as a 3 year old in fantastic form. He has really stepped up from his 2 year old season and I think he has a huge future. He trotted 3:4 for the 2400 metres yesterday and did it easy. Greg said he would be a lot better for the run at Ashburton and he was. I am really looking forward to driving him in the big races coming up." Chattanoogachoochoo " He surprised me a wee bit with how he went. We got a long way back and I had to use him to get around them. When he straightened up he really charged home and won with a bit of authority. That was his best run for a while." Eva Sophnally " She deserved that one. She has been going good for a while back in Canterbury. She just lacks a touch of high speed but makes up for it with her toughness. Once I got to the front I knew she would be hard to beat." When looking forward to the second day at Nelson tomorrow Ricky, while acknowledging that all the winners had gone up a grade still thought the two impressive maiden winners would be hard to hold out. " I think Arizona Atom and Usain Colt are both capable of taking the step up and winning again on Sunday." "I also think the maiden trotter Everybody Knows is a big chance in the first race," Ricky said. Greg and Nina Hope and Ricky May have built up a great record at Nelson over the last few years and punters should be very wary of this lethal combination when assessing the fields tomorrow. Harnesslink Media    

Race 1 Winner: Meticulous Trainer: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen Driver: Tim Williams Owners: Phil & Glenys Kennard Bloodstock Ltd, Grant Dickey, Rex & Heather Knowler, Stewart Gillan and Phil Creighton.  The For Sale sign has been taken down from the window of Meticulous. For most of this week there was speculation the Christian Cullen four-year-old would be withdrawn from this week’s assignment due to a pending sale which never eventuated. Now, following the impressive geldings eighth win from 21 starts, Mark Purdon is quite keen to keep him in the barn. “It’s probably a bit hard to sell him after that,’’ he said. “He’s had his fair share of problems, but right now he seems the best he has ever been in terms of his calmness. “He could carry on and do quite a nice job I think.’’ Handled expertly by Tim Williams, the speedy pacer crossed the outside of the front line from his 9 barrier and led with ease. Stablemate, Backup sat on his back throughout and was the only one close at the finish when running second.  The one for next time: Phoenix Warrior: Left in no man’s land from the barrier draw but managed to weave a path through from near last at the 800 metre mark to finish a bold third.   Race 2 Winner: Hug The Wind Trainer: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen Driver: Mark Purdon Owners: Anne & Tony Parker, Jim and Ann Gibbs and Kevin Warneford Mark Purdon might have picked Alta Orlando to win the Sires’ Stake heat but that never meant he didn’t think he couldn’t win it with his drive, Hug The Wind. As it turned out his prediction proved wrong as he and Hug The Wind wore down Natalie Rasmussen and Alta Orlando in the shadows of the post. “He kept giving and trying the whole way up the straight,’’ he said. “He’s a beautiful cut of a horse and he has quite a future. “I would expect he would improve a bit with the run too as he is still carrying a bit of condition.’’ Rasmussen revealed that Alta Orlando’s tendencies to make life difficult for himself by over racing and wanting to things wrong seem to have carried into his three-year-old days. “He’s just fighting a bit too much out there and pulled to hard tonight,’’ she said. “But hopefully with a few good runs under his belt those wee issues might sort themselves out.’’ The All Stars Stable made it a clean sweep of the race by picking up third placing with Change Stride who snuck along the markers to complete a stable trifecta. The one for next time: Zin Zan: Got going quite late in proceedings after looking like he was labouring at the top of the straight. A good run in his first look at the elite company.   Race: 3 Winner: Donaldson Trainer: Greg and Nina Hope Driver: Stevie Golding Owners: Greg & Nina Hope, Morrie Molloy, William Middleton and the Coffey Family Syndicate. Greg Hope feels Donaldson deserves a crack at the Dominion Handicap during Cup Week, but he’s not sure whether or not he will get the chance. The consistent trotter mate it win number seven against a small but handy field in the lower grade trot continuing a great run this season for himself and his young driver, Stevie Golding. The pair have footed it with the best in Canterbury and took the opportunity to drop in grade this week and then went and made the most of it. “He’s been really good this time in,’’ Greg Hope said. “I’d like to think he could work his way into the Dominion but he’s quite low in the grades so it might be hard for him. “He definitely deserves a shot though.’’ Golding joined up with the Woodend Beach stable at the start of the season and has been in a purple patch of form winning six races and currently leading the national junior drivers premiership. He showed real patience with the son of Earl keep him held up until he could have one shot at them in the run to the line, snatching victory from the jaws of Rare Opportunity who was a brave runner up. The one for next time: Oh Nova: Nothing really went right for the speedy little trotter. Got caught on the markers but was putting gin some pretty telling strides late in the piece. Race: 4 Winner: Bio Marinus Trainer: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen Driver: Mark Purdon Owners: Lavros Lodge Ltd Usually a horse who takes him time to come to peak fitness after a spell, Bio Marinus has, for this campaign anyway, hit the ground running at full speed. After a bold fresh-up second behind the smart Wesley Silcox last week the Art Major four-year-old was very impressive winning after sitting parked for the last lap and then wearing down a brave Billie’s A Star in the run to the line. “He probably wasn’t travelling that good at the top of the straight. “But each time I asked him for some effort he gave me a little bit more. “He’s not an all and all out star, but he is a very nice horse who will keep doing a good job.’’ Billie’s A Star was massive in defeat and will snare another win at short notice for Phil Burrows. The one for next time: Nicky’s Dynamic: Dragged the three wide line up in the last lap and never gave up the task in the run to the line. Should drop into something a little easier in the coming weeks and be hard to beat.     Race: 5 Winner: Habibti Trainer: David and Catherine Butt Driver: David Butt Owners: Robert Paterson, Birchbrook Breeding Ltd, Lynne Paterson David Butt isn’t quite sure what to make of Habibti. The Woodend Beach horseman hasn’t been all that happy with his star performer so far this season, but each time he takes the brilliant mare to the races she seems to lift. That was the case this week when she wore down a star-studded field in the Group 3 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup, showing her blistering turn of foot. “She surprised me a bit to be honest,’’ Butt said. “I haven’t been at all happy with her at home, but she’s certainly lifted when we have taken her to the races that is for sure.’’ Camped off the speed while those in front were running a hot pace, Butt angled Habibti to the middle of the track and she stormed home to win impressively from Mr Consistent AKA: Sheemon with Stent third and Master Lavros fourth. Butt will now point Habibti toward a run at Methven next week off a long handicap in a $13,000 Fillies and Mares’ Trot. Mark Jones reported he was much happier with Master Lavros whose condition told inside the final 200 metres. The one for next time: Superbowlcheerleader: Forced to sit parked on a hot speed the tough mare never shirked the challenge and although beaten she kept fighting.     Race: 6 Winner: Tiger Tara Trainer: Geoff Dunn Driver: Gerard O’Reilly Owners: Bob & Jen Sandford, John Gould and Geoff Dunn Don’t be fooled by the narrow margin, Tiger Tara made things look a little more difficult than they were. The Geoff Dunn trained pacer continued his incredible run which should culminate in a run in the New Zealand Trotting Cup with a tradesman like performance in a small, but talented intermediate grade pace. In front and rolling along the tough little pacer showed, again, his liking to allow horses to get close to  him before kicking clear again. “He’s just mucking around,’’ Gerard O’Reilly said. “At the end of the race he was actually doing it pretty easily.’’ Dunn will now consider his options looking forward with Tiger Tara already inside the cut off line in the rankings for the Cup. He may look to keep him away from the big guns for as long as possible which could mean he won’t take them on until Cup Day itself. American import, Johny Rock, was a very good second after flying out of the mobile gate and he will continue to improve as he gets more racing under his belt. The one for next time: Mighty Flying Mac: Expect this guy to take huge benefit out of his first up run. He wasn’t far away but clearly his condition told in the closing stages.     Race: 7 Winner: Terror To Love Trainer: Graham and Paul Court Driver: Ricky May Owner: Terry McDonald If connections of horses in the New Zealand Trotting Cup weren’t already worried about Terror To Love, they are now. The three-time New Zealand Trotting Cup winners was simply freakish in winning the Canterbury Classic coming from a mile off the speed to breeze on by some quality opposition and win in style. In a typically patient and no fuss fashion, Ricky May never panicked despite at one stage being at least 15 lengths off the leader, Pure Power. Forced wide on the bend, Terror To Love was vulnerable without doubt but he flattened out and stormed into it. “His speed is pretty unreal,’’ May said. “He picked them up pretty easily in the end, it was a really good performance.’’ The win left the camp behind the champ all smiles with Paul and Graham Court both adamant there is still some improvement to come yet. What was more concerning was that he had a small gallop at the beginning of the race. “He actually paced away, and then things got a little tight and I think he got a fright. “I don’t know if we need to be too concerned about it but it doesn’t help the cause.’’ In behind the action there were plenty of meritorious performances. Franco Nelson boomed home from well back as well to nab second while Christen Me who was forced to sit parked on a slick pacer was brave to the end in running third. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen pairing of Hands Christian and Adore Me were both hitting the line well – as was Four Starzzz Flash. The one for next time: Adore Me: She made up a tonne of ground. A really good starting performance from wonderful mare. She won’t be out of contention in a Cup.     Race: 8 Winner: Parramatta Trainer: Terry and Glenys Chmiel Driver: Terry Chmiel Owners: Audrey and Thomas Piercy Terry Chmiel has always had a high opinion of Parramatta and this week he showed why. The talented four-year-old entire overcame an outside of the second row barrier draw to win the Super Series final for horses who were graded as CO at the 9th of August. Chmiel took bad luck out of the equation by pushing forward from his back row draw to find the lead within the first 600 metres and from there he dominated – dashing away to win in stylish fashion by a big margin. Out of the former speedy mare Sheng Li, the son of McArdle has had raps on him since day one. “He’s going to be a pretty nice horse in time,’’ Chmiel said following an earlier win. Parramatta was the fifth winner for the stable for the season who set a personal best tally of 36 last term. Brilliant Strike who worked around to sit parked outside the winner kept whacking away up the straight and will win a race at short notice. The one for next time: Bird Of Paradise: Was probably going to run second had it not been for a check late in proceedings. One for odds in the coming weeks.     Race: 9 Winner: Hot Pants Trainer: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen Driver: Mark Purdon Owner: Trevor Casey and Natalie Rasmussen Trevor Casey had double the reason to smile this week. Not only did his star trotter Stent return to form with a good third in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup but he also produced a winner with Hot Pants who he co-owns along with Natalie Rasmussen. After a luckless resuming run, the speedy little trotter took luck out of the equation by working to the lead early in proceedings before handing the lead to Shell Seeker with a lap left to run. With one cold shot at them the daughter of Majestic Son was too slick The race itself was farcical with gallopers a plenty both early and late in the race. After training six winners for the season prior to the night beginning, Purdon and Rasmussen almost doubled their tally in one night with a quartet of wins. That puts them right up into the top three or four trainers for the season. The one for next time: Indiana Jones: Making up huge ground late in the piece and looks set to be in for a good few months. Trotter with a lot of ability.     Race: 10 Winner: Mr Franklin Trainer: Steve Dolan Driver: Blair Orange Owner: Mark Wotton, Max Braithwaite, Neil Struthers, Wayne Milligan, Simon Consedine and John Gould. Good manners, a perfect drive and some good old fashioned luck all led to back-to-back victories for Mr Franklin. The Steve Dolan trained pacer was very good winning a junior drivers race last week when handled perfectly by Tom Bagrie but he stepped up a level again this week to sneak along the markers and grab a very brave Provocative Prince in the shadows of the post. When race favourite, Tokahoka went bush on the bend and extinguished his chances Orange seized on the opportunity to sneak to the inside and grab the dream run along the markers to sneak the win. A four-year-old gelding by Grinfromeartoear has now won four from 22 and placed on a further six occasions. The runner up, Provocative Prince was massive in second after doing plenty of work and only faded in the dying the stages – will win one soon. The one for next time: Johnny Eyre: Came from a long way back again and only needs an ounce of luck before he wins a race – maybe Methven next week?     Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand                                                                            

The votes have been tallied and the winners announced at the 2014 New Zealand Harness Racing  Awards in Christchurch. Tonight our industry celebrated the many successes of the exciting 2013/14 season. Below are the winners for 2014. Please note a total of 21 voting papers were received. PGG Wrightson 2YO Pacing Filly of the Year  SUPERSONIC MISS 14 Owners: Butterworth Racing Syndicate, K J Riseley, D M Riseley, MacLean Family Syndicate, Kaos Syndicate. (Joanne’s A Delight - 5, Linda Lovegrace - 2) Woodlands Stud 3YO Pacing Filly of the Year VENUS SERENA 21 Owner: R L Sandford, Mrs J A Sandford, G R Dunn Nevele R Stud 4YO & Older Pacing Mare of the Year ADORE ME 21 Owner: Charles Roberts, Paul Kenny, Mary Kenny. McMillan Equine Feeds 2YO Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year  FOLLOW THE STARS 20 Owners: Mrs G J Kennard, P I Kennard, N Pilcher, G R Douglas, P J Creighton, Mrs M C Creighton (Alta Orlando - 1) Copthorne Commodore 3YO Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year TIGER TARA 17 Owner: R L Sandford, Mrs J A Sandford, J S Gould, G R Dunn (Locharburn - 3, Isaiah - 1) Christchurch Casino 4YO & Older Pacing Entire or Gelding of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 21 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) Alabar Stud Pacer of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 19 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) (Adore Me - 2) Trotters Crombie Lockwood 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year WANNA PLAY 14 Owner: Trevor Casey, Natalie Rasmussen (Arya - 6, Yagunnakissmeornot - 1) XCM 3YO Trotting Filly of the Year MAJESTIC TIME 21 Owners: J M Ward, Mrs P L Ward, Miss S L Ward, C M Ward Advanced Joinery 4YO & Older Trotting Mare of the Year SUPERBOWLCHEERLEADER 21 Owner: Mrs Sue Grainger, Studholme Bloodstock Limited Lone Star 2YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year MONBET 20 Owners: Greg Hope, Mrs Nina Hope, Maurice Molloy (Prince Fearless - 1) The Caxton Press 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year KING DENNY 21 Owner: Butterworth Racing Syndicate NRM 4YO & Older Trotting Entire & Gelding of the Year MASTER LAVROS 20 Owner: Kypros Kotzikas (Peak - 1) Lincoln Farms Trotter of the Year MASTER LAVROS 21 Owners: Kypros Kotzikas Harness Racing New Zealand Horse of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 19 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) (Adore Me - 2)

Harness racing trainers Greg and Nina Hope have been having a wonderful run for the last 18 months and that was capped off in style today when the Love You gelding Monbet completely overwhealmed his opposition in this years $100,000 2 year old Ruby for trotters at the Harness Jewels. Steadied out of  the gate, he was caught three wide early as Sunny Ruby sped to the lead from eight with an opening quarter in 27.1. Working to the death at the 1200 meters, he stayed there until the 400 meters when Ricky May pushed the go button and he sprinted away for an easy win in a stunning 1:56.6, just a tenth of a second outside the New Zealand record. It was the first New Zealand Group One win for the popular North Canterbury trainers, following on from their success in the Australasian Breeders Crown in Australia last season. Prince Fearless was parked early before receiving the one by one from the 1200 meters but only battled in the straight and was nutted for second by the smart Angus Hall filly, Arya only for her to lose that placing in the inquiry room for interference to Speeding Spur on the first bend.   Prince Fearless was promoted to second with Yagunnakissmeornot who stormed home late on the inner was promoted to third. Wanna Play was caught three wide early and never really got closer in but showed real grit to battle on for fourth in such a fast run race. Owned by the longtime supporter of the Hope stable in Michael Molloy, Monbet looked the best of the two year old trotters early before going through aflat patch in the last six weeks. A stunning winner at the workouts last Saturday at Cambridge, Monbet reaffirmed today his standing as the best two year old going round. "His bloods were out last start but after the way he trialled last Saturday I thought I had him back to his best," said Greg Hope. "As it turns out, I was right," he added. By Mark Robertson  

Congratulations to Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, Todd Mitchell, Joshua Dickie, Jonny Cox, and Nathan Williamson who all produced ‘the goods’ last week. The best result was Katieellen Castleton, who was backed into a closing price of $6.50. Let’s see what good oil the boys have come up with on this massive week of harness racing. Addington - Thursday Colin DeFilippi: Has opted for Strathfield Sun, who recovered well to finish fourth after an early gallop last start - race one. Gavin Smith: Was impressed with Karanga Red Fantasy’s fresh-up second behind Anton Oliver, and think she can go one better in race six tonight. Mark Jones: Has opted for Rock Till You Drop on the back of a couple of impressive workout performances. - race six. Ricky May: Is bullish about the chances of Nevertheless, who has been very good in his last two starts - race seven. Franklin - Friday Jay Abernethy: Likes the chances of Pacific Rapture, who produced a big performance after breaking behind the mobile last start- race six. Simon Lawson: Has opted for the consistent Gold Elite - race eight. Josh Dickie: Rates Kippenberger as a good each-way chance- race nine Forbury Park - Friday Nathan Williamson: Thinks Mr Majestic can break his maiden status in the first race on Friday. Tim Williams: Believes it won’t be long before Mordecai cracks maidens. Probably Friday night- race three. Cambridge Harness Jewels - Saturday Greg Hope: Thinks he has Monbet right back on top of his game and expects him to prove very hard to beat in the 2YO Ruby - race two. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has also opted for Monbet on the back of an impressive workout at Cambridge. - race two. John Dunn: Thinks Venus Serena has a cracking winning chance despite her tricky second-line - race three. David Butt: Thinks One Over Da Moon only needs a touch of luck to be a major player in the 3YO Ruby - race four. Ken Barron: Thinks that if Majestic Time is at her best come Saturday she will be a force to be reckoned with - race four. Anthony Butt: Has opted for smart filly Joannes A Delight, who should strip a better horse this week after missing work last week due to a foot abscess - race five. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Supersonic Miss - race five Todd Mitchell: Is very happy with Prime Power, who will attempt to defend his Jewels title on Saturday - race seven. Matt Markham (HRNZ): Rates Prime Power as the bet of the day on Harness Jewels Day - race seven. Ashburton - Sunday Dexter Dunn: Has a good book of drives on Jewels Day, but has instead opted for Artismee in race two on Sunday Stephen McNally: Thinks Hikoi is closing in rapidly on his maiden win- race five. Terry Chmiel: Thinks last start winner That Guy Finn, can repeat the dose on Sunday - race seven. Sam Ottley: Rates the chances of Mattjestic Rebeck - race nine. Invercargill - Monday Jonny Cox: Is bullish about the chances of King Louie - race five. Clark Barron:  Rates Royal Taz as his best chance of the weekend - race eleven.  

A dazzling display at the Cambridge workouts has Greg Hope confident that Monbet is back in the zone ahead of Saturday’s 2YO Ruby at Cambridge. “He trialled super, trotted well, and handled the bends superbly,” said Hope. “Judging by his trial I think he is as good as I have ever had him,” he enthused. “His bloods were out last start but we had bloods taken from him yesterday and the vet said that they were absolutely perfect,” he advised. Monbet has drawn well in barrier four and Hope says he has good gate speed if May wishes to use it. “It’s there if Ricky (May) wants it,” said Hope. “He has drawn wide in most of his starts so Ricky has decided to go back on him but he may well choose to do otherwise on Saturday.” But while Hope is confident he has the two-year-old son of Love You right where he wants him ahead of Saturday’s 1.2 million-dollar raceway, he isn’t getting too carried away. “You can never be too bullish when there are three Purdon-Rasmussen trained runners that are all in good form in the race, but we are confident he will be very competitive,” said Hope, who trains the gelding in partnership with his wife Nina. And while Monbet may very well down the All Stars trio on Saturday, Hope has already conceded that Helena Jet is probably running for second in the 4YO Diamond. “We can’t beat Adore Me unless something completely wacky happens,” he admits. “But I am confident that we are at least as good as anything else in the field and for that reason I think we have a great chance of running second. “She is a super miler and has gone 1-55 and even 1-54 on multiple occasions,” he added. Greg is also hopeful that Mossdale Connor can be competitive in the last race on Saturday’s supersonic raceday, the 4YO Emerald. “I’d love to see him go forward and lead. “I punched him out in 27 at the workouts the other day and he got home in 27 as well,” he added. “Franco Nelson and Elios are probably a bit better than us but we have the barrier draw, and for that reason I think we have to use it,” he concluded. By Mitchell Robertson  

Fast tempo harness racing was the theme of the day at Oamaru yesterday and because of it, three track records were broken. The classy Greg and Nina Hope trained filly Nuala, who led all of the way to win impressively by 2 and ½ lenghts despite being attacked on multiple occasions, started the trend when setting a new track record for the two-year-old fillies. Nuala, who is a well bred daughter of Changeover, paced the 2000 metre journey in a slick 2-27.7 (1:58.8), which equalled the 2yr-old record for either sex set by Kenny The Cowboy in 2003, but it was 1.2sec faster than Black Ice's 2011 time. “We sold her mother (Forever Blue) to America for good money and then bought her back to breed from after she had finished racing,” said co-trainer, Greg Hope. “Nuala is very similar to her mother and has bit of the X-factor,” he added. Miss Pegasus then overcame a 20 metre handicap to win the main 2600 metre trot in a mares’ record time of 3-19.7, before For The Ladies shaved a full second off Chloe Hanover’s 2600 metre standing start record when blitzing her rivals in a swift time of 3-15.5. Meanwhile, Mako Banner, who is a full-brother to the very good Mach Banner, was just outside the track record when downing classy two-year-old Field Marshal in the C1 mobile Pace. By Mitchell Robertson    

Eyre I Come, who was an impressive debut winner at Timaru on Sunday, will now eye the $100,000 NZ Yearling Sales Series Trotters Final at Addington on Thursday. “David Gaffaney (trainer) and Greg Hope have always had a very big opinion of the horse, but he has had a few problems along the way,” said owner Grant Hatton. Hatton purchased Eyre I Come, a son of Majestic Son and well bred mare Landoras Special, for $45,000 at the 2012 NZ Premier Yearling Sales on the advice of Mark Jones. “Mark and I actually liked him better than the Landoras Special colt the next year which sold for $127, 500,” said Hatton, who is also the owner of top pacer Saveapatrol. Eyre I Come, who was backed in from $31 on the fixed odds on Sunday, came with a strong finishing burst to beat smart trotter Trouble Rieu. He was driven by Ricky May who will once again partner him in Thursday’s feature. “We were probably a bit lucky with Lothario galloping in the home straight, but it was still a good effort to pick the second horse up,” said Hatton. Hatton said that talented trotter Thebestlove definitely looks the one that they all have to beat on Thursday, however he believes his gelding has the game to be highly competitive if he was to do things right. By Mitchell Robertson  

Two-year-old fillies Fight For Glory and Linda Lovegrace were equally impressive, finishing first and second for Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon in the second heat of the Sires’ Stakes, which was also the first two-year-old fillies race run at Addington this season. Favourite Fight For Glory was sent straight to the front by Rasmussen where she got away with some very slow sectionals, before Purdon showed some initiative and looped the field to sit outside her with Linda Lovegrace. The pair then raced away on the home bend, but it was Fight For Glory, a daughter of Art Major and smart mare Breath Of Life, who held on to win by three quarters of a length after enjoying the easier run. Linda Lovegrace, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight and Lindagrace, will now head to Auckland with stable foreman Ross Payne tomorrow, with a team including Rocknroll Arden, Bonechip, Aldo Rossi, and Jay Dubb, who has undergone a change of plans and will now head north, bypassing the Kindergarten Stakes. Smolda, Isaiah, and Willow, who was also an impressive winner last night, will also travel north with the team tomorrow, before flying out to Sydney on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Love You juvenile Monbet was an impressive winner of the two-year-old trotters’ event, downing the Purdon – Rasmussen pair of Arya and Wanna Play. “He is a lovely trotter with plenty of scope and good manners,” said trainer Greg Hope. “Originally I thought he might have lacked an inch of real top end speed but I think he is developing that as well, he added. By Mitchell Robertson

It may have been a wet and miserable day but Greg & Nina Hope left Mt Harding Racecourse with plenty to smile about. The Woodend couple were successful early in the card with smart mare Helena Jet before claiming dual Green Mile victories with Glencoe VC and stable newcomer Phil’s Gift. The former, who was driven by Gerard O’Reilly, was a comprehensive winner of the $20,000 Pacers Green Mile over Castellina Lover and stablemate Jason Rulz, despite racing parked for the majority of the journey. “He is a very good horse who just never gets tired,” said Greg Hope. “He is a great stayer, but he also has his fair share of speed, so I think he has a very big future,” he added. The lightly raced six-year-old son of Washington VC will now target the Ashburton Cup on Boxing Day before tackling the Northern Southland and Invercargill Cup. “The two mile standing starts should really suit him, so all of those races will be right up his alley,” he enthused. Hope was also happy enough with Jason Rulz performance in finishing third. “Being left three wide in the Cup really hurt him and he is just taking a while to come back to it. He looks like he is back on the up now though. There isn’t a lot between him and Glencoe VC.” Phil’s Gift then topped off a great day for the Hopes by winning the trotters version of the Green Mile. “We have only had him a week but he is a lovely horse with really high speed,” said Hope. “We took him home after the Geraldine races last week and he was in terrific order. He had a couple of runs on the beach during the week and I think that sharpened him up for today,” he added. “Murray Tapper who formerly trained the horse is cutting down so we were lucky enough to get our hands on him. Murray has done a superb job with him. He is probably the most sensible and well mannered Sundon I have ever had anything to do with,” he concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

In Melbourne.--- From the mud, to the beach to the big stage. That is the journey that has taken Kiwi trainers Greg and Nina Hope from battling trainers on the circuit to the winners circle at Melton on Breeders Crown day yesterday. The Canterbury couple trained their first group one winner when Quite A Moment upset local hero Blitzthemcalder in the A$95,000 three-year-old trot at the ABC meeting. For the Hopes, glamour days like yesterday used to be something they watched on television from afar as they prepared a team of lower grade scrubbers but that all started to change two years ago when they dedicated themselves to beach training. That saw them quickly turn castoffs into cash and with that came some better bred horses and this season appearances at major racedays. “We used to battle around, doing a lot of pre-training for other people and something like this was just a dream,” said Greg Hope. “And it is that much more special because the owners of this filly have been with us a long time, right from the start.”
 And Hope says results like yesterday should prove to plenty of other battling trainers that their luck can turn. “Of course I admire all the top trainers but sometimes it comes down to the horses you get and because of the beach training we are getting better horses these days.” While it was their first group one, for fellow Kiwi trainer Gareth Dixon yesterday’s victory with Carpenter’s Daughter was almost a homecoming. Some of Dixon’s biggest wins have come in Australia, including two early Breeders Crown trot finals with Super Command. After a tough season in New Zealand, Dixon gave owners a reminder of his skills, peaking Carpenters Daughter for her A$100,000 final and a perfect drive from John Caldow did the rest. A mare dogged by seasonal problems, Carpenters Daughter has now sealed her future broodmare career. While punters were stunned by her win, the hottest favourite in Breeders Crown history hardly raised a sweat winning his A$175,000 three-year-old final. Kiwi colt Bit Of A Legend started the at the minimum allowed price of $1.04 on the tote and won untested by 9.5metres, driver Dexter Dunn let him cruise down the home straight after he had put 15m on his rivals at the 300m mark. While his final was decimated by withdrawals of key rivals, Bit Of A Legend has developed into a world class three-year-old and it will be interesting to see how far he goes in open class, where his pony-like size is often a disadvantage. While New Zealand owned or training horses took out four of yesterday’s nine group ones, the most hyped contest of the day went to Team McCarthy, who quinellaed the A$302,000 two-year-old male final with Bling It On and Lettucerockthem. They led and trailed and that gave no tactical chance to the Barry Purdon-trained pair of Sky Major and Maxim, who were brave in third and fourth. And earlier in the meeting Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon had to settle for second in the juvenile trot after coming from 30m off favourite I’m Stately. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and Harness Racing New Zealand  

Highly talented three-year-old filly Helena Jet made it three straight wins when taking out today’s 2-4 win Coupland’s Bakeries Timaru Winter Cup in emphatic style.

Greg Hope, who was born and raised in Blenheim, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Waterlea Racecourse, was smiling back home at Woodend yesterday as stable new-comer Reklaw Supreme claimed victory in his hometown Cup.

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