Ken Casellas | Photo Credit: Hamilton Content Creators
Star reinsman Ryan Warwick resumed driving in grand style after enjoying a winter holiday when he gave a skilful performance to guide the brilliant four-year-old Minstrel to a superb victory in the 2503m Jandakot Training Centre Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Minstrel, prepared by leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond, was the lone backmarker off 40 metres and was the $2.10 favourite for his expected clash with the speedy frontrunner Awaitinginstructions, the second fancy at $3.60.
Shannon Suvaljko’s strategy in his bid to take full advantage of the front-line draw was to set a solid pace with Awaitinginstructions. This he did, and Minstrel’s supporters must have felt somewhat apprehensive when Minstrel galloped for a few strides at the start and settled down a distant last.
However, Warwick did not panic, and Minstrel gradually caught up with the rest of the field. Warwick bided his time until he dashed Minstrel forward, three wide, with about 1450m to travel to quickly move outside the pacemaker.
After Awaitinginstructions had dashed over the second quarter of the final mile in 29.3sec. Suvaljko tested his arch rival with a blistering third 400m section of 27.4sec. This failed to unsettle Minstrel, who got to the front 250m from home on his way to his half-length victory over the gallant pacemaker. Minstrel ran the final 400m in 29.4sec. and rated 1.58.9.
Minstrel extended his winning sequence to four and improved his record to 22 starts for 12 wins, six placings and $253,161 in stakes. His eleven starts in Western Australia have produced eight wins and one second placing.
Catching the eye in Friday night’s event was the New Zealand-bred six-year-old Hit the Sky, who was last at the bell before running home with a strong burst, out five wide, to finish third, two lengths behind the second horse.