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Woodend Beach trainers Greg and Nina Hope can continue their brilliant recent strike rate at Oamaru today with Homebush Lad.
The 6yr-old is one of the leading contenders for the feature 2000m pace, the ninth race on a bumper 12-race card of grass-track racing.
Homebush Lad got within half a length of Cast No Shadow in the Amberley Cup, a significantly stronger race, on the grass track at Rangiora last weekend.
Today’s race should not hold any fears for the Mach Three pacer.
“The way he went at Amberley he just needs to step
cleanly and be close by them and he should really be the horse to beat,” driver Ben Hope said.
“He has been going some great races. So as long as he can step away well, which he has been doing, he should be hard to beat.”
Homebush Lad shares the 10m mark with in-form Roxburgh pacer Wolfenstein.
They are the only two horses off handicaps; the remaining seven runners will be starting from the front line.
Much of Homebush Lad’s recent form has come over staying distances, including
his last-start second over 2600m.
Hope does not regard today’s step back to 2000m as a major problem for his pacer.
“I don’t think it would be a negative.
‘‘Obviously he has been going well over distance. But Mach Threes don’t mind short-distance racing, so I definitely don’t think it would be a disadvantage.”
Krystal Delight starts for the Greg, Nina and Ben Hope combination in race 6.
The 5yr-old looks one of the best winning hopes in the 2000m mobile, if she finds clear air from her draw of barrier 1 on the second row.
“She has been going good races and I don’t think there is anything in the field that is a lot better than her,” Ben Hope said.
“But just from that draw she is going to need a bit of luck.”
Dreamsinthe Mist starts for the Hopes in race 1, with Blair Orange in the sulky.
The former high-priced yearling has failed to flatter in two starts as a 3yr-old.
The squaregaiter has the potential to win the race, but whether he can do so today could depend on his manners.
“He has definitely got ability,” Hope said.
“We paid quite a bit for him at the sales a couple of years ago — he is pretty well bred.
“He is a trotter that we are still working out in a way and he hasn’t got the best gait.
“He is a horse that we think a bit of, but we are not sure he will be able to show it this time in.
“He will be a nice horse one day.”
Ever So Bettor starts in race 3 for the stable with Ben Hope the driver.
“She is probably a horse I couldn’t tip out as a winner with the way she is going. But she should get a pretty good opportunity at Oamaru.
“She should win a maiden. It is just a matter of when and where.”