Minstrel ready to fire
By Adam Hamilton
EXCITING former Kiwi pacer Minstrel has handled a chaotic week superbly and is primed for his next big challenge in Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle.
The son of Rocknroll Hanover is coming off a powerhouse win in the Group 1 Golden Nugget last Friday night and then a flight from Perth to Sydney on Monday night.
“He couldn’t have come through it all better,” co-trainer Greg Bond said. “I’m looking at him now. He’s a cool dude, he looks right at home here (Luke and Belinda McCarthy’s stables).
“I’m not bothered about the quick back-up or the travel or even the quality of horses he’s taking on this week. I know he’s up to it.
“My only query is that we’ve trained him to run that strong 2500m of the Nugget last week and now he’s coming back to a mile and a very tempo race where it’ll be on right from the start.
“There’s no qualms about his ability. I’ve said I think he’s up with the best we’ve had.”
Minstrel raced 10 times for David and Catherine Butt in NZ for four wins, four seconds and a third before being sold to Bond.
Many of those runs were in elite company including a third to Copy That and One Change in the Group 2 Flying Stakes and a second to It’s All About Faith at his final NZ start on September 4, last year.
Bond said Minstrel’s talent was obvious from the day he arrived, but he had his quirks.
“Skye (Bond’s wife) deserves the credit for him. He’s been like a project for her,” he said. “She played around with how we train him, changed his shoeing, changed his bit and it’s all come together,” he said.
“He put the writing on the wall with that big run behind Magnificent Storm two runs back then really showed he’d arrived in he Nugget.
“That Nugget win was pretty special I thought. He was three-wide in a quick lead time, sat parked and still ran home in 55.7sec. They took a full second off the race record and I think the horse he beat is exceptional (Magnificent Storm).”
Bond is sure Minstrel has plenty of gate speed, but will leave the decision on whether to use it and all tactics to driver Robbie Morris.
“I’m thrilled to have got a top local like Robbie. He knows the form, knows the track and know how to drive them at Menangle,” he said.
"At first you think barrier nine isn’t great, but he’ll come into seven if the emergencies come out and the upside is two of his biggest dangers Expensive Ego (11) and Stylish Memphis (12) have drawn outside him.”
Minstrel has been crunched from $7 into $5 on the Aussie TAB since Tuesday’s barrier draw, while Expensive Ego is the easing favourite ($2.50 to $3.10).