With Ricky May off to Cairns on holiday tomorrow, the scene should have been set for Stevie Golding to take over as Greg and Nina Hope's main driver for the rest of the season.
The Hopes had no reservation about Golding being their main man for the next two weeks after he had impressed in his short time at the barn, but a pre-planned holiday means Golding will head to the Gold Coast on Tuesday.
''Unfortunately, it was already booked when I was at my last job,'' Golding said.
''It's pretty gutting but it's just the way it's worked out. We'll have to get it sorted for next year.''
Golding left the Ken Barron stable to work for Greg and Nina Hope six weeks ago but still sits behind May - a stable driver for the Hopes.
The 23-year-old was not the only loser, with the Hopes not having their newest staff member on board for the past four meetings in the South Island this season.
''He's a very good young driver with a great attitude towards the game,'' Greg Hope said.
''Normally, Ricky has the pick of the drives and he [Golding] picks up the others or any double-ups.''
Golding will benefit tomorrow, though. In May's absence, Golding had picked up the drive on the Hope-trained Eva Sophnally in the fillies and mares Winter Cup at Ashburton.
''It's a great opportunity but he deserves everything he gets,'' Greg Hope said.
Greg Hope described Eva Sophnally as ''a lovely mare'' but said her best was yet to come.
''I think in another six months she can go on with things and be a really nice race mare,'' he said.
The 4-year old has had just three starts in the Hope barn after previously being with Murray Edmonds.
''Murray did a fantastic job with her but the owners just decided coming out onto the beach might freshen her up a bit and give her a change of scenery,'' Greg Hope said.
The Christian Cullen-Dancing Holmes mare has been racing in some nice company with a last-start fourth behind Explosive Art, Art Union and Madiba Magic at Addington last week.
Golding has had twice as man drives as he had last year, and it has helped him score a career-best nine wins.
His ninth was an impressive effort to get Maiden Rome home for the Hopes in the opening race at last night's Addington meeting.
Tomorrow's Winter Cup field over 1609m could be a competitive field.
The Robbie Holmes-trained Lurah should be right in contention and Mark Jones has two chances off the front row in Sabellian and Goodness Gracious Me.
With his younger brother in Australia, John Dunn has picked up a handy drive on the Cran Dalgety-trained Speights Girl.
- The Press
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