The powerful Greg and Sky Bond stable showcased two of their star four-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night when Patronus Star and Minstrel scored impressive victories and indicated that they will be leading contenders for the rich Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in the summer.
“The big Cups, that’s what we’re aiming at,” said star reinsman Ryan Warwick. “But it’s only July and there’s a long way to go.
“Patronus Star and Minstrel are pretty good, but they are totally different, just the way they go about their business. With Patronus Star you know what you’ve got in the tank. With Minstrel, you don’t; he is just lethargic, and he doesn’t travel like you know much he’s got in reserve. But there is always something there.”
Warwick drove confidently to land Patronus Star, second fancy at $2.60, to a head victory over the $2.50 favourite Major Times in the 1730m #Pacingforpink Pace, and $1.40 favourite Minstrel an easy winner in the Follow Pacing For Pink WA On Instagram Handicap, a stand over 2503m.
Minstrel, having his second start after a four-month absence, raced in last place for a lap before Warwick sent him forward to race without cover while $7.50 chance Major Artist was setting a solid pace. Minstrel strolled to the front with 420m to travel and won by three lengths from $14 chance Bettor Pack It, covering the final 800m in 58.2sec. He was not extended.
The only reason why Minstrel contested a stand was that the mobile events he had been nominated for fell over. Minstrel, a winner at ten of his 20 starts for earnings of $227,168, has won at six of his nine starts in Western Australia after he raced ten times in New Zealand for four wins. He has made one appearance at Menangle when he contested the Chariots of Fire in February this year, eight nights after his victory over Magnificent Storm and Patronus Star in the Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park. He had a tough run and finished ninth behind Expensive Ego in the Chariots.
Patronus Star began fast from the No. 3 barrier on Friday night and set a brisk pace with quarters of 28.7sec., 29.3sec., 27.9sec. and 28sec. when he held on to score a head victory over Major Times, who fought on with great determination after working in the breeze.
This followed his somewhat disappointing third-up effort a week earlier when he set the pace and wilted to finish fifth behind Shockwave in a fast-run 2130m Free-For-All.
“Patronus Star was definitely better tonight,” said Warwick. “I was disappointed with his run last week. “His first-up win was soft, probably too soft to do him any benefit. His second run when a nose second to Mighty Conqueror appeared like he needed the run, and last week I thought that maybe the expectation was a bit high for a horse of his ability. However, he was pretty good tonight.
“I thought that when I pulled the pull-downs tonight, he didn’t react as he should. He raced with pull-downs in New Zealand and as a three-year-old here. I released them just after we cornered when the other horse (Major Times) started to make a bit of ground. He felt like he didn’t run through the line one hundred per cent. I think that where he is right now, he’s probably better without them.”
Friday night’s win by Patronus Star at a 1.53.5 rate improved his record to 25 starts for 13 wins, seven placings and $319,887. His seven starts in New Zealand produced two wins and three placings, and he has raced 18 times in WA for 11 wins and four placings, with the highlight being his victory over Major Martini in the WA Derby in April of last year.
Written by Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators