Minstrel on audition for Victoria Cup

By Adam Hamilton

Exciting former Kiwi pacer Minstrel can press his case for a Victorian raid with victory at his first open-class test at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

The four-year-old, already a Group 1 winner of the Golden Nugget, is arguably Western Australia's most exciting pacer.

At the very least he’s right there with another four-year-old, Magnificent Storm, as the future of WA’s and potentially Australia’s open-class ranks.

And it’s just what WA needs at a time when pin-up pacer Shockwave has been sidelined again, the emerging To Fast To Serious has an injury and their best three-year-old Lavra Joe has been confirmed with a suspensory issue and won’t race for a long time.

While training team Greg and Skye Bond have what looks like their best batch of open-class pacers ever, Greg said Minstrel was potentially the best.

“We’ve got a really good group,” he said. “Mighty Conqueror has the score on the board and he’s back to his best, but Minstrel just has something about him. The drivers (Ryan Warwick and Dylan Egerton-Green) come back after driving him and speak so highly of him.

“He is still learning and has his quirks, but there’s a great motor in there.”

Minstrel and Mighty Conqueror join the likes of Vampiro, Patronus Star, Galactic Star and classy former Kiwi mare Wainui Creek in Team Bond’s open-class team.

Minstrel made it four wins from as many runs this campaign when he made light work of a daunting 40m handicap to win at Gloucester Park last Friday night.

“We didn’t really want to run him in those stands, but there hasn’t been races for him. We now want to get some free-for-all and mobile racing into him with a view to the Victoria Cup,” Greg Bond said.

“Of course everything depends on COVID and if we can travel from WA to Victoria without hassles at the time, but we’d love to go to Victoria with a small team.

“It’s great they’ve now got the Victoria Oaks, Derby and some big mares’ races on around the same time as the Victoria Cup.

“We’d look at taking Minstrel and/or Mighty Conqueror for the Cup, one for the Derby and Oaks and Wainui Creek for the mares’ races. She’s about to race again and she seems extra well.”

Bond said Dont Bother None and Jett Star were the Derby contenders, while Boorah and Newsy were possible for the Oaks.

Minstrel has the pole and, providing he shows the speed to use it and lead, he looks too good for a moderate free-for-all field tomorrow (Friday) night.

Longer term, Bond is the latest of a growing list of trainers to rule-out the NSW Inter Dominion with his team.

“No, we won’t be going. The travel schedule for the heats (to Bathurst and Newcastle), especially when you’ve got to come from Perth, is asking too much,” he said.

“Then there is the stakemoney. It’s just not high enough, especially the $30,000 heats when we race for at least $25,000 in free-for-alls at Gloucester Park every week.”

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