Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Astute trainer Ray Williams heaped praise on talented reinsman Aldo Cortopassi after he had driven rising superstar pacer Magnificent Storm to a superb victory in the group 3 TABtouch York Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday afternoon.
Williams and several part-owners of the New Zealand-bred four-year-old had lengthy discussions during the week as they contemplated the tactics Cortopassi should employ with the gelding, who had drawn awkwardly at barrier seven, with his chief rival Minstrel more favourably drawn at barrier No. 3 and appearing certain to be the leader.
“There were heaps of plans, and originally I thought maybe we should go back and get them at the end,” said Williams. “And then I said to myself that Aldo knows the horse, and when he suggested that he would prefer to go forward at the start, we agreed he should have the final say.
“And then with the scratching of Son Of A Tiger, it made it a bit easier for Magnificent Storm to go forward at the start.”
Cortopassi said: “I gave the guys a few options, regarding what we could do and what we couldn’t do. My opinion was that we should gun the gate and then be able to sit on the outside of Minstrel. I reckoned we couldn’t afford to come off the gate half-heartedly and look for a spot and give Minstrel lengths on us.
“I wanted to drive him positively, knowing that he had had three starts after a spell and that Ray would have him around a hundred per cent. I thought that if I could be parked outside of Minstrel I would be sharper than him, faster with a sheer turn of foot. And that’s the way it worked out.
“Coming off the back, I knew he had him. That was his 18TH start in a race and he is still learning what the caper is all about. Some two-year-olds have had more starts. We play down about how good he is, and we know how good he is.”
Magnificent Storm is generally regarded as a speed horse. But Williams scoffed at that perception, saying: “That’s ridiculous because he is tough. He’s got everything you want in a horse. He’s exciting; he can sprint and he can stay, and he’s got gate speed as well. We hadn’t used his gate speed for a while, until today.
“He will have another couple of runs before going for a spell. And then we will get him ready for the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup in the summer.”
Williams said that Magnificent Storm would contest the $50,000 James Brennan Memorial at Gloucester Park next Saturday night. “And if he pulls up well after that race he will start in the $50,000 Navy Cup the following Friday,” said Williams.
Minstrel, prepared by Greg and Skye Bond, was the $1.60 favourite, with Magnificent Storm at $2.20 ($2.90 on the fixed market), and Ryan Warwick sent Minstrel past the polemarker Ideal Liner and into the lead after 80m. Magnificent Storm immediately moved into the breeze alongside Minstrel, who after a 36.7sec. lead time was able to relax with opening quarters of 30.1sec. and 29.1sec.
The third quarter whizzed by in 27.7sec., but Minstrel was unable to shake off Magnificent Storm, who surged to the front 250m from home and dashed away to beat his rival by 7m at a 1.55 rate over the 2130m journey.
This improved Magnificent Storm’s record to 18 starts for 16 wins, one second and one ninth (on debut at his only New Zealand appearance) for earnings of $257,384. For Minstrel, it ended a winning streak of five.