Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Outstanding five-year-old Minstrel survived a spirited interrogation from star pacers Magnificent Storm and Chicago Bull to score a superb victory in the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Starting favourite at $2.50 from barrier No. 1, Minstrel resisted challenges from his rivals before clinging on to win from his stablemate, the $23 chance Patronus Star, who was ninth at the bell and 11TH at the 400m mark before charging home with a spectacular six and seven-wide burst to finish second, just a short half-head behind Minstrel.
Hurricane Harley ($12) trailed Minstrel throughout before finishing strongly to be a close third, while Magnificent Storm ($6) and Chicago Bull ($3.70) wilted after covering a lot of extra ground to finish ninth and tenth, respectively.
“It was a great race; there was pressure and moves aplenty,” said champion trainer Greg Bond, who prepares Minstrel in partnership with his wife Skye.
“It was the second and third favourites doing the work on the outside of Minstrel. So, probably, our main dangers were working harder than Minstrel was. I was not over concerned about that pressure, which obviously took the edge off us. It was a pressure race, as group ones should be.
“Patronus Star (driven by Deni Roberts) was great. He has the ability to sit off a hot speed and finish off very strongly. He showed that tonight, like he did when he won the Derby. He is that beautiful bit of insurance, back in the pack, and if things are run a bit upside down, he can finish strongly.
“Minstrel has pulled up in great shape, and so have our other Cup runners (Patronus Star, Mighty Conqueror and Vampiro). Mighty Conqueror was strong and was beaten (8TH) only by ten metres, and unfortunately Vampiro met with interference and broke, with Dylan (Egerton-Green) saying that if it wasn’t for the interference he would’ve been right up there, too.
“Everything with our four runners looks spot on, heading into the WA Pacing Cup in a fortnight.”
Minstrel’s victory gave Greg Bond his second success in a Fremantle Cup. He won the big race when Money Magnet led throughout in the 2006 Cup. It was also star reinsman Ryan Warwick’s first win in a Fremantle Cup.
“This is a race I have always wanted to win, particularly when it was a stand, even though I’m not saying that I’m not pleased to have won tonight,” said the 43-year-old Warwick. “I couldn’t see Patronus Star because he was sort of camouflaged on the corner.
“I did see him back in the pack around the 400m to the 300m. Vampiro caught my eye; he was travelling okay before he met with a check. I knew that I had Hurricane Harley on my back and didn’t want to let him out. But finally, I had to let Minstrel go because I knew how fast Patronus Star can finish.”
Aldo Cortopassi urged Magnificent Storm forward from the outside barrier (No. 9) on the front line and the five-year-old surged forward, out four wide, before getting to the breeze outside Minstrel.
From barrier four Chicago Bull settled in eleventh position before Gary Hall jnr send him forward, three wide, after about 600m. But Magnificent Storm resisted Chicago Bull’s challenge for the breeze position and the wonderful nine-year-old had to work hard, three wide, for the rest of the 2536m event.
Minstrel rated 1.55.7, with the quarters of the final mile being run in 28.1sec., 30.1sec., 28.7sec. and 28.8sec. A winner at four of his ten New Zealand starts, Minstrel has raced 18 times in Western Australia for 11 wins and five placings. His career record stands at 29 starts for 15 wins, eight seconds and two thirds for earnings of $495,523.
By American sire Rocknroll Hanover, Minstrel is the third foal out of the Mach Three mare Ovaride, who had 14 starts for one win, four placings and $10,580.