Express & Star

Hunt is back and with high Hopes

A former Category One finalist returns to action at Monmore Green this evening while one of the track’s fastest-rising stars makes his Open race debut.

Nathan Hunt

Hopes Paddington, who made the Ladbrokes Winter Derby final earlier this year and is trained by Monmore’s Nathan Hunt, makes his long-awaited comeback in one of four Opens taking place tonight.

Stouke Salah, meanwhile, makes the step up in class for trainer Brian Thompson following a sensational streak in the graded ranks at the Wolverhampton track in recent months. Hopes Paddington and Stouke Salah compete in race seven and two respectively, with Monmore deputy racing manager Jake Pain excited by the quality on show across the card.

“We’ve got four Open races taking place and, first of all, it’s great to see Hopes Paddington back in action,” said Pain. “The three-year-old performed magnificently on his way to the Winter Derby final in March, and this will be his first competitive outing at Monmore since switching over from Mark Wallis’ to Nathan’s kennels.

“He doesn’t have it easy in race seven by any means, with Richie Taberner’s Aero Squeak a reliable performer from trap six while Wallis’ Newinn Ranger will be determined to beat Hopes Paddington to the first bend. Stouke Salah’s rise from A8 to A1 was outstanding, and now he makes his Open race debut against some tough company including kennelmate Bloos Boy Rapido and Arthur Muffin, trained by the Swindon-based Patrick Godfrey.

“The 630 Maiden, race five sees Wallis’ New Destiny go over six bends for the first time, and it will be interesting to see how that race plays out. Hunt pair Pomba Jake and Teds Dexter are amongst the field in the final Open race of the night, another six-bend affair in race nine, while race six sees Taberner’s Aero Dylan have his first career race in graded company.

“All in all, it should make for a top evening of racing and one we hope all our racegoers enjoy.”

Tonight’s card follows on from a fine Thursday evening’s racing which saw trainers Hunt, Thompson and Patrick Curtin each have a couple of winners.

Arguably the highlight of the evening saw the Craig Marston-trained Chanceme Sala run out victorious in race eight in a time of 29.32secs – just 0.01secs ahead of Patricia Cowdrill’s Elderberry Hazel.