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It is not uncommon for children of harness racing trainers to try to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Around the industry throughout their life, they try to carve out a career in harness racing in their own right. One who is about to head down that path is Ben Hope. His parents Greg and Nina Hope are at the elite level of the industry in New Zealand and are having a stellar season through the performances of both Monbet and Mossdale Conner. Ben has been enthralled with harness racing from an early age. " I can remember riding in the cart with dad when I was really young." " From there I progressed to Kids Kartz where I had a bit of success with a couple of ponies called Pepper and Bonnie." "I had my first drive on a horse when I was eleven when I drove Jason Rulz which was a big thrill," Ben told Harnesslink this afternoon. Now aged sixteen, Ben has had a few drives at workouts to date for his parents . " So far I have had seven drives for three wins and a second so so far so good." "In the next eighteen months I plan to have plenty more drives at the workouts and to get better with the stopwatch with a view to becoming a junior driver when I turn eighteen." " At this stage I want to focus more on the driving side of the industry." "I have one more year at school and then I will go to work for mum and dad," Ben said. As you would expect, Ben rates his parents as the best trainers he has had contact with while Ricky May is the the top of the driving ranks in Ben's opinion. Ben has already dabbled in the ownership side of the industry, buying the Love You mare Unyielding Spirit for $5,000 " She has won a couple to date and over $20,000 in stakes and been placed in 2:00.1  " She hasn't got much longer on the track as she is in foal to Peak," Ben said. Of all the horses coming through the ranks at the Hopes barn, Ben has a lot of time for a two year old. " He is a two year old called Kingslayer who is a three quarter brother to the former outstanding two year old, Ohoka Arizona." " He may not race at two, but I know dad thinks a lot of him," Ben said. Ben is already quite well known to Trackside viewers as he frequently fronts the interviews for the Hope barn. " I was quite nervous the first time but now I have got use to it I really enjoy it." It is something I would like to do a bit more of in the future,"Ben said.  With his grounding in the industry and his level headed approach to things, Ben Hope is a name to post in your notebook for the future. Harnesslink Media  

Leading into last nights $40,000 Lyell Creek Stakes at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park, the jury was well and truly out on who the best trotter in the country was. Stent, Master Lavros and Monbet all had supporters and those supporters could all make a case as to why 'their' horse should be rated number one. In the two minutes, forty four point six seconds it took to run last nights race, the question of who was the current top dog amongst the trotters was well and truly settled. Ricky May sent Monbet forward from barrier seven but he was caught three wide for the first 800 metres before finding the death seat. Mark Jones on Master Lavros had managed to find Monbet's back early in the race and had followed him around three wide at which point Mark Jones pressed on and found the front with just over 1200 metres to go, again leaving Monbet parked out. Stent from the outside of the second line had managed to slot in to four back in the running line but was a fair way off his adversaries with a lap to go. Mark Jones and Master Lavros applied the afterburners down the back straight in 28.3 which had quite a few in the field struggling but Monbet hadn't gone anywhere and it was obvious on the corner that these two would fight out the finish. Shortly after they straightened, Monbet just changed gear and went sailing on past for an emphatic victory by 2 1/4 lengths from Master Lavros with a further 2 3/4 lengths back to Prime Power. Stent made ground late when it was all over to finish fourth. Monbet trotted the 2200 metres in 2:44.6, a mile rate of 2:00.4 with closing sectionals of 56.4 and 28.1 The son of Love You has now won twelve from twenty two and over $228,000 in his career to date. Driver Ricky May was fulsome in his praise of Monbet. " He just went absolutely super tonight." " He got a bit keen early on when one of his earplugs came out but he came back to me fairly quickly." " I didn't mind sitting parked as he relaxes so well out there." " He gave me an incredible feel out there tonight and won that so easily." " There is no doubt that he is the best trotter I have ever driven and I think he proved tonight that he is the best trotter in the country at the moment," Ricky said  Greg and Nina Hope have done a wonderful job of looking after Monbet through his two and three year old seasons and are now starting to reap the reward for that patience. Harnesslink Media

Driving a favourite who is expected on to win on New Zealand Cup Day at Addington Raceway is nothing new for Ricky May but doing it with a trotter is. May has won four of the last six New Zealand Trotting Cups but in 2015 his most talked about drive is in the Group I NZ Trotting free-for-all. Greg and Nina Hope's rising star of the trotting ranks, Monbet, is yet to win in genuine open class company but he has been crunched into $1.75 favouritism for his toughest test yet.  His price might be too short for some punters, but is not overly surprising given his blistering finish in the Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile and his cup trial, where he ran away from a handy field with ease. May was all smiles after the trial and although he does not like to get ahead of himself, he did admit it was impossible not to take confidence into the race. Also in Monbet's favour is his barrier draw of two for the 1950-metre mobile. All signs indicate May will be looking for an early lead. "Even right through last season we never really had a decent draw so we will be using it," Greg Hope said. Monbet's last start was a fifth in Ashburton, when he made up stacks of ground on upset race winner One Over Da Moon and champion square gaiter Stent, who finished second. "If we had have had a better draw I think we could have gone close," May said. One Over Da Moon is second favourite at $3.75 and starts from the ace with trainer-driver Tony Herlihy not being drawn into whether he would look to hold the front. "We'll just take it as it comes and see what pans out on the day." Classy mare Habibti ($13) and duel acceptor Waterloo Sunset ($18) are the value in the race and there will be plenty of interest surrounding the first New Zealand start for Tim Butt's Swedish import Daryl Boko ($18). Starting from the outside of the front line will make life difficult but the run will provide an interesting gauge of where Daryl Boko is at leading into Friday's $250,000 Dominion Handicap. Meanwhile, Cran Dalgety's cup plans have taken a hit with the scratching of one time favourite Christen Me but he is hoping stablemate Bit Of A Legend, also scratched from the cup, may be some chance of upsetting the horse many regard as the next big thing in the Group III junior free-for-all. Have Faith In Me, a $1.20 favourite from the second line over 2600m, will be running through stacks of multis but Dalgety said he will not get it handed to him on a plate. Bit Of A Legend appears to be well over the odds at $13 with his form line deceiving because he has been blowing the standing starts. "If the cup was a mobile start he would still be in it," said Dalgety who also has Art Union in the race as a $6 chance. "He's been missing away but he's been going super after his mistakes." Bit Of A Legend will contest the Group I New Zealand free-for-all on Friday. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of  Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

Labour Day is shaping as judgement day for Monbet. That may sound strange for a 4-year-old who has won nine from 18, a Group I and more than than $150,000 in stakes but the Group III Trotters Flying Mile will be his first test in open class company. A 2-year-old winner of the Jewels and runner-up at three in Ashburton earlier this year, making his step up to town hall company over a mile at Ashburton suits down to the ground. Trainers Greg and Nina Hope, who race the son of Love You with long-time stable client Morrie Molloy, are confident Monbet will measure up to most of the field but Greg Hope freely admits Monbet has never gone up against the likes of Stent and co. "He's ran the times but you never know until you go up against the top ones," Hope said. Monbet holds a nomination for the Group I Dominion Handicap but the Hope's have been leaning towards the Group I NZ free-for-all over 1950m on cup day. But Hope has confirmed the Dominion is still a live option. "This run will decide whether we go to the free-for-all (on show day) or the Dominion way," Hope said. Since running second to Sunny Ruby at the Jewels, Monbet has been beating up on intermediate grade trotters with ease when winning his last three starts by margins of five, six, and 10 lengths. Monbet spent much of last season following home Speeding Spur but has come back from a short break much stronger. His form last season was better than it looked when he went through a run of shocking barrier draws. Ashburton is not much different with Monbet starting from barrier seven, outside Sheemon (6) and Stent (5). Hope said obviously he would have liked to have drawn inside the pair but he knows if anyone can find a path through the field it will be Monbet's regular driver Ricky May. "I know he can go with them but whether or not he can beat them is another thing all together," Hope said. Sheemon has recovered from a slight set back that saw him put in an underwhelming run the Group III Canterbury Park Trotting Cup. Smart mare Habibti is back in the mix after missing a run in the Canterbury Park due to muscle stiffness in her back. Monday's watch horse for punters will undoubtedly be Australian trotter Vincennes who is currently in the care of Craig and Aimee Edmonds and will be driven by Tim Williams. The Edmonds other runner, Kincaslough, is safely in the Dominion field but needs to show much more than she has so far this preparation to suggest she can match the third she ran in last year's Dominion. Tony Herlihy has brought One Over Da Moon south on the back of six consecutive wins. Ashburton will be a good indicator of where he is at after not beating top fields but doing it off massive handicaps. The forgotten runner in the race could be Jag's Invasion's whose last start third behind Stent and Master Lavros was impressive given up he was first up since last year's Dominion. He is unlikely to be a winning chance after drawing barrier eight but could match his runner up placing of last year. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with the permission of Stuff NZ  -  Check site here

Leading harness racing trainers Greg and Nina Hope have never had the rub of the green all season with their stylish three year trotter Monbet. A series of niggles and bad draws has seen the son of Love You play the bridesmaid a few times this season in the Group 1 features. Tonight at Addington in cold and damp conditions, Monbet just sent a wee reminder of how really talented he is. Facing some very talented mid grade trotters, Monbet stepped cleanly from barrier one and then handed up to the free going front runner Waterloo Sunset after 200 metres. Driver Ricky May angled Monbet off Waterloo Sunset's back at the 200 metres and he flew by and away for an emphatic five length victory Monbet trotted the 2600 metres in the winter conditions in 3:23.7 with smart closing sectionals of 57.4 and 27.8. Greg Hope was philosophical about the bad luck that had plagued Monbet's three year old season. " We have deliberately looked after him all season and he has never been bottomed out in any of his races.' "It would have been nice to have got a good draw in just one of the big ones but he has only gone under by a neck and a nose in two of the group races so he has never disappointed me." "Tonight's win was penalty free which is why he was here and he can go out for a month or so now." "He won't be out too long as we want to have him up and running in the lead up to Cup week," Greg said. Driver Ricky May leaves you in no doubt about how he rates Monbet. " He is such a beautifully gaited trotter with high speed and is just a lovely horse to drive. " He showed tonight that when he gets a decent run he can really finish it off," Ricky said. Greg only has one grizzle and it is about the problems surrounding the availability of the frozen semen of leading sire, Love You. " I hope it becomes available again as he has done such a great job in New Zealand from small crops." " I will be one of the first in line if he becomes available," Greg said. Harnesslink Media  

The big four year old feature the $100,000 Taylor Mile at tonights harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park was wide open after the barrier draw and trying to pick a winner was really hard. When the gate left, Maurice McKendry shot the son of Bettor's Delight Mossdale Conner to an early lead and applied the blowtorch right from the start. Dalton Bromac worked to the death from barrier eight before handing up to Border Control who found the death seat with 1000 metres to go. Sky Major improved three wide but Mark Purdon was not handing up the death seat and Sky Major was left out there for the rest of the race. Meanwhile Maurice continued to roll along in front with Mossdale Conner and was still traveling well as they turned for home. Pinching a couple of lengths as they turned for home, Mossdale Conner had enough in reserve to hold out a game Border Control by a length with Ohoka Punter flying home late for third in front of another big finisher in Tiger Tara. Mossdale Conner paced the 1700 metres in 1:58.1, a mile rate of 1:51.7 with closing sectionals of 55.4 and 28. The time was a new New Zealand record, taking 1.6 seconds off the previous record held by Gold Ace and every runner in tonights race went under the previous record. The first four home were all by siring sensation Bettor's Delight, Mossdale Connor, Border Control, Ohoka Punter and Tiger Tara. Trained at Woodend by Greg and Nina Hope, Mossdale Conner is usually driven by Ricky May but with Ricky committed to Dalton Bromac, Maurice McKendry picked up the drive in the Group 1. Maurice was all smiles post race. " I was lucky to pick up the drive because Ricky was committed to another horse." "Greg asked me to drive him at the trials last week and I was really impressed as he went 2:42 for 2200 metres and had plenty left at the finish." "Greg offered me the drive after the trial so that worked out good." " I just let him roll along in front and as I thought he would, he found plenty in the straight," Maurice said. The way he won tonight, Mossdale Conner comes right into calculations for the New Zealand Messenger next week. Note: Followers of the weekly ringaround on Harnesslink would have been laughing all the way to the bank tonight after Maurice McKendry gave out $20 shot Mossdale Conner as his bet of the week. Harnesslink Media      

“What a bitch she was as a young horse!.I couldn't wait to get her off the place!” That's Robert Earle's early recollection of 'Maiden Rome', the Elrae Lodge harness racing mare now well and truly considered part of the family. The 7 year old's 1.59 victory in the 'Prodigal Seelster Summer of Speed Series' opener at Methven this month was her eighth win and third for the calendar year. A giant leap from going around in the amateur ranks this time last year. Chatting from Tuscon, Arizona where he was attending the annual world racing conference, Rob Earle puts his homebred's best year down to beach training. “She was feeling her old joints around our home track and was 'hot or cold' on race days because of it I think. I was travelling away a lot and Steve Golding had just started working with Greg and Nina Hope's beach stable. He wanted a horse to keep on the board with the race driving and had won with her in the past so they made a logical team.” The combination started with back to back 'metro' wins in July, collected the $7500 Addington 'met multiplier' bonus along the way and the form held all spring! Enough, in fact, for 'Maiden Rome' to be among nominations for the New Zealand Cup no less, then be considered unlucky not to win a couple of other country cups to boot. “She helped me with an amateur drive victory at the Tuapeka races last year and I really thought that was us just about done with the winners circle.” Maiden Rome at Methven Rob Earle doesn't get as many opportunities as Maiden Rome to show his race day talents given the time he spends overseas as CEO for the once high profile '123 Racing' product. The bet type which had enough presence down under to back a live broadcast of New Zealand Cup day in 2007 has since gained traction in the USA. It's introduction at several major tracks has helped '123' accumulate a million dollar turnover the last three months. Earle's making another 'push' for his pet project in Australasia this year, hence the '123' race colours on 'Maiden Rome' at Methven. “We've teamed up with the website this season and I'm keen to revisit the New Zealand and Australia prospects in the New Year. I think we were just ahead of our time back then.” Meantime the other pet, 'Maiden Rome' continues on an extended racing schedule. Earle admits she should really be in foal but that's for next season now given her 'Summer of Speed' form heading to Boxing Day's holiday heat in  Ashburton. “Actually we bred her from a free service so the Prodigal Seelster series might be the right formula for Maiden Rome too” thinks Rob. The bloodlines are a tidy match and the 'Summer of Speed' seems a good fit so far. “She's definitely the best horse we've had. The only one to truly pay her way.” Easy as 1 2 3 this racing game eh? Link here to the Ashburton Summer of Speed Heat (R9 on Boxing Day) Prodigal Seelster Camluck Cam Fella Most Happy Fella Nan Cam Lucky Lady Striking Image Just Our Luck Platinum Seelster Western Hanover No Nukes Wendymae Hanover Parcel Abercrombie Barbret Maiden Rome Julius Caesar In The Pocket Direct Scooter Black Jade Pleasant Franco Bo Scots Blue Chip Pleasant Evening Jazz Tempo Shiney Key Abercrombie Keystone Shineola Jazzmania Enterprise Royal Tempo  Sheldon Murtha.  Top Of The Trots Media.

The curtain has finally been lowered on the harness racing career of the champion trotter Sovereignty. Plagued by soundness and foot complaints for a major part of his career, Sovereignty has been a major player on the New Zealand trotting scene since he announced his arrival as a three year old with a stunning performance in the New Zealand Trotting Derby. Sitting three wide for most of the last lap, Sovereignty only went under by a neck but then went on to dominate the three year classics with wins in the Great Northern Trotting Derby and the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final. Sovereignty ended his three year old season with a stunning win by over 5 lengths in the Harness Jewels in 1:56.9 and was duly crowned 3 year old trotter of the year in New Zealand Over the next six seasons, Sovereignty would race and beat the best around but was always under a cloud due to his soundness and feet issues. Australians never got to see Sovereignty at his absolute best as he only made two trips there in his seven seasons on the track and although winless in seven starts in Australia, Sovereignty picked up $94,313 in stakes which gives you an insight into his class. He was a constant in the Group One trotting races in New Zealand over those years with his half head second to Springbank Richard in the Dominion Handicap a highlight. Owned and raced throughout his career by the legendary Hall Of Famer Charlie Hunter and his wife Annette, Sovereignty was purchased on their behalf at the Christchurch yearling sales by noted Cambridge trainer Sean McCaffrey. He was trained throughout his career by Sean McCaffrey apart from a handful of starts for Greg and Nina Hope when a beach training regime was used to see if it helped him with his soundness issues. One always felt that a fully sound Sovereignty would have been something special on the track and to achieve what he did with all his issues stamped him as a trotter of the highest class. In all Sovereignty faced the starter 94 times for 28 wins and 34 placings for stakes of $780,386. Sovereignty went out a winner at his last start in early April and that was an appropiate way to end what has been a stellar career. Harnesslink Media  

The In The Pocket stallion Changeover continues to enhance his growing reputation with every meeting recently and that continued tonight (July 25th) when he was repersented by winners at both metropolitian harness racing venues, Alexandra Park and Addington Raceway. First up at Alexandra Park was the smart gelding Prince Of Pops who registered his third win for the season with a stylish win over older horses, rating a smart 1:59.8 for the 2200 meters. Just as impressive was the filly Change The Rulz who showed a clean pair of heels to her competition in the A Electrical Ltd Mobile pace over 1950 meters for two and three year old fillies at Addington Raceway. It was the fourth individual filly winner for Changeover in New Zealand in his debut season. Sent straight to the front from barrier six by leading driver Dexter Dunn, Change The Rulz kept up a solid tempo throughout before skipping clear on the home turn and holding out a good finish from  She's Extreme to win by a length and a quarter. It was her first win at her fifth start but Change The Rulz had hinted at an early win with a close third last time to the races. Trained at Woodend by Greg and Nina Hope, Change The Rulz is raced by Greg along with the well known Westport trotting identity, Richard Dellaca. She paced the 1950 meters in the cold conditions in 2:24.1, a mile rate of 1:58.9 with closing sectionals of 58 and 28.4. From the “Rulz” family which has been long associated with Richard Dellaca, Change The Rulz is a half sister to this seasons promising 3 year old Ranfurly Rulz. (3 wins). Her dam Victoria Rulz is a half sister to the brilliant Courage Under Fire gelding Jason Rulz 1:54.6 ($207,985). Like a lot of the Changeover's, Change The Rulz looks just the type to develop into a really smart horse at three. Change The Rulz Harnesslink media    

The six year old mare Maiden Rome has been a bit of a fixture around Canterbury harness racing racetracks over the last three and a half years. Raced and trained for most of her 63 start career by well known amateur driver Robert Earle apart from a brief spell with Roger Austin, the decision was made recently to transfer the six year old daughter of Julius Caesar to Greg and Nina Hope on the beach at Woodend. And it has just taken three starts for this under­rated mare to turn her form around and show her true worth for her new trainers. Driven by her regular pilot of late in Steven Golding, Maiden Rome was caught wide from the start from her barrier draw of eight. Although she had cover, Maiden Rome was never closer in than three wide for the entire journeyyet still found enough in reserve to storm home late and snatch victory right on the post. It was her fifth lifetime win and without doubt her best. She paced the 1950 meters in 2:25.4 a mile rate of 2:00.3 with closing sectionals of 60 and 30.1 which was good going in the artic like conditions. Maiden Rome really is a product of Robert Earle's involvement in harness racing with her dam Jazz Tempo a daughter of Shiney Key ,an Abercrombie stallion that Robert imported and stood at stud at Elrae Lodge. While she has never won them out of turn, the way Maiden Rome won this evening suggests that tonight's win from her new quarters might not be her last. Harnesslink Media

“This wins all for you Barry Nyhan.” – Those were the words that Canterbury commentator Mark McNamara said as Eva Sophnally crossed the line in first place at Addington on Friday. Eva Sophnally is owned and bred by Val Nyhan, wife of the late Barry, who sadly passed away on Friday morning (June 13) aged 76. Eva Sophnally, who was having her first start for Greg and Nina Hope, was driven by Ricky May, who wore a black arm band in memory of Nyhan. Barry Nyhan, son of the late legendary trainer Don Nyhan and the brother of dual New Zealand Cup winning driver Denis, was the driver of many of his father’s stars during the 60’s and 70’s. He was also the manager of Lordship’s remarkable stud career at Trents Road’s Globe Lodge. One of Barry’s biggest driving victories came in the 1973 NZ Derby aboard a son of Lordship in Koarakau, who was trained by Don. As well as driving and training multiple winners, including some in partnership with Don, Nyhan was also renowned as one of the best chaff makers in the country. Eva Sophnally is out of five win mare Dancing Holmes, who is out of a mare by another stallion Nyhan stood at stud in Dancing Master.  Barry was the much-loved husband of Val and the cherished father and father-in-law of Grant and Dale, Mandy and Richard, and the late Toni. His funeral will be held at Westpark Chapel on Wairakei Road at 10am on Thursday. R.I.P Barry. By Mitchell Robertson  

Harness Jewels 2YO Emerald winner Beaudiene Boaz is the latest classy two-year-old that has been purchased into the stable of leading Perth trainer, Gary Hall Snr. The Badlands Hanover colt, who was trained by Ray Green, is the third pricey two-year-old that has been bought by Hall in the last month. The other two are smart fillies Nuala and Giuliana Rancic, who were both snapped up by Hall Snr after making impressive winning debuts. Nuala, who is a daughter of Changeover and smart mare Forever Blue, was purchased out of the stable of Greg and Nina Hope for a six figure sum, while American Ideal filly Giuliana Rancic also fetched good money for her co-trainer-owner, Josh Dickie. Other two-year-olds that have been snapped up by the huge Perth market this season include Ardee, who is set to debut in WA tonight, and Assassinator, who finished a narrow second in his Australian debut at Pinjarra yesterday behind another ex-Kiwi two-year-old in Arturus. Meanwhile, classy two-year-old Smoke N Santanna, who has been the subject of a couple of big offers this season, was humanely put down last week after breaking a leg in a paddock accident while spelling. “It’s a real shame as he was a very nice horse who was going to come back even better at three,” said Ricky May, who drove the son of Santanna Blue Chip and Smoke N Mirrors to win his last at Addington. “Mark (Jones-trainer) had a big opinion of the horse and was keen to keep racing him in order to try and pick up some more penalty-free wins, but the owners wanted to look after him and spell him and then something unfortunate like this has gone and happened.” “It’s just goes to show that sometimes you are better to take the opportunities while they are there as racing can be a really cruel game at time but you never expect something like this to happen. “It only ever happens to the good ones,” he concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

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  

Ricky May found out the hard way why you can never be too confident heading into the Harness Jewels. Despite picking up a victory with Terror To Love at last year’s Jewels in Ashburton, the Methven horseman had a tough day at the office overall despite being touted  as the driver to follow throughout the day. Seven of May’s drives at the meeting started inside the top three favourites and only three filled a placing. “It definitely taught me that you can’t be too confident that’s for sure.’’ Fast forward 12 months and the most successful driver in New Zealand Trotting Cup history is in a similar position as he heads to Cambridge tomorrow for this year’s $1.2 million Harness Jewels Raceday. Despite being devoid of a stand out drive like Terror To Love this year, May’s dance card for the meeting is high quality and he has more than one chance at adding to the two Jewels victories he already has. “It’s a good book of drives and for once the draws have actually come out alright for me. “I’m just trying not to get too far ahead of myself this year.’’ Heading the list of drives is speedy pacing mare Helena Jet. Had it not been for champion mare, Adore Me, the Greg and Nina Hope trained mare would be going around a commanding favourite – instead she is the runner everyone is tipping to finish second. May can’t afford and doesn’t want to think that way. “You can’t go out there thinking you are just there to run second. “I think she is a great chance in the race, people probably underestimate just how good she is. “Her trial at Addington last week was really impressive – she felt great.’’ Coming into the race fresh, Helena Jet is going to have to be at her best. “She does seem to race some of her best races when she is in a fresh state so we are just going to have to punch out and see where we end up.’’ Helena Jet is one of three runners May will driver for the Woodend Beach based Hope training duo. The other two, Monbet and Mossdale Connor, both turned heads with impressive workout victories at Cambridge last week and from good barrier draws they are expected to play a big role in both of their respective races. “I think Monbet would have to be my best chance of the day,’’ May said. “He’s a really talented trotter and he’s finally got a barrier draw to use, he feels like he could trot out really quickly if I want him too. “Mossdale Connor is in the same sort of position, he can fly the gate if he wants too, but it’s what we do after that is the big question – I think he could lead if he wanted to. “This could be his big chance at getting a big one.’’ May’s book of drives for the day are rounded out by three-year-old filly, Lancewood Lizzie for Auckland trainer Barry Purdon and also Davey’s Gift in the three—year-old Ruby for Michael Ward. By Matt Markham (HRNZ)

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    

Ricky May says suggestions Terror To Love is vulnerable heading into tonight's Easter Cup are off the mark. Questions have been swirling this week after the champion reinsman gave the three-time New Zealand Trotting Cup winner a quiet time of it in a two-horse trial at Ashburton on Tuesday. But while some may ponder whether or not the run will have been enough to get Terror To Love in shape to defeat champion mare Adore Me in tonight's $100,000 Group I event, May is keeping his cool, calm attitude. "I've been driving at the trials at Ashburton for 30 years," May said yesterday. "I know what a hard run can do to a horse there when they are four or five days out from a race. There have been plenty who have set that track alight during the week only to fail at the weekend." Terror To Love was timed to run his 2400m heat in 3min 8sec - a sedate effort considering he went 2min and 54.9sec for the Ashburton Flying Stakes on the course, over the same distance, last October. To May the time is irrelevant. The most successful horseman in New Zealand Trotting Cup history with seven wins was impressed with how Terror To Love looked and felt. "I thought he looked fantastic, certainly not like a horse who hasn't raced for a while. I gave him a really strong preliminary before the heat too and he felt awesome. "You can never get a [true] line on him at the trials anyway, he knows when it's raceday and grows another leg. "I was really pleased with the trial, I definitely don't think we have too much to worry about other than Adore Me." Back at his favourite track and racing over his pet distance, Terror To Love will still be favoured by many to down Adore Me tonight. The pair clashed for the first time last month in the Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park and Terror To Love emerged on top after giving the brilliant mare six to seven lengths at the top of the straight and running her down. "I think we can beat her for speed. "I'd be a little more worried if we had to sit outside her and try and beat her though." Adore Me, too, has some question marks hanging over her head. She is backing up from a gruelling 2600m event last week in which she started off a 40m handicap and set the stop watches alight by smashing the New Zealand all-comers record while also going within a whisker of beating the national mobile record as well. Tonight will be the first time Adore Me races over the ultimate distance of 3200m. In her favour though is that it is likely the lead will be waiting for her whenever she decides to come forward, with stablemate Arden Rooney looking the most likely early pacemaker. Ad Feedback "I don't think we would get the lead if we went around and he [Arden Rooney] was in front. So it's going to be pretty tactical and moves in the race will be crucial." Terror To Love was last night rated a $1.70 favourite to win the Group I with Adore Me at $2.10. Both horses are likely to offer more on the tote tonight, although the value for Adore Me is sure to entice some punters. The TAB have already taken a $5000 bet on Terror To Love. May holds a strong hand in tonight's secondary feature - the Group III $25,000 New Zealand Trotting Stakes for two-year-olds. He will drive smart trotter Monbet for Greg and Nina Hope, who suffered defeat for the first time in his career at Rangiora when beaten by BD Love. ❏ Samantha Ottley became the first female to reach 100 career driving wins while a junior driver when she was victorious with Gogirl Bromac at Forbury Park on Thursday night. After a couple of weeks stuck on 99, the talented young driver, who hails from Orari in South Canterbury, finally broke the duck and notched up the ton to continue her remarkable fledgling career.. In her first raceday drive, Ottley was successful when Nigel Paul won at the Kurow meeting on her 18th birthday. Attached to the stable of Colin and Julie de Filippi, Ottley currently sits second on the national junior drivers' championship behind North Island horseman Sailesh Abernethy. By Matt Markham (Courtesy of The Press)            

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