Minstrel triumphs in thrilling Cup
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.
Papinik stakes his claim
Emerging star Papinik maintained his brilliant form with a dashing victory in the $25,000 Joe and Margaret Petricevich Memorial Fremantle Cup Consolation at Gloucester Park on Friday night to stake strong claims for a start in the $450,000 TABtouch WA Pacing Cup next Friday week.
“We would like to get a start in the Pacing Cup,” said trainer Ross Olivieri. “Tonight, he overraced a bit, and Voaky (Chris Voak) said it felt like he needed the run. So, he may be improved by that run.”
Papinik’s win was a triumph for Voak, whose initiative played a major role in the lightly-raced six-year-old’s win over Hampton Banner and Al Guerrero. Papinik’s gross time of 3min. 2.7sec. was fractionally slower than Minstrel’s time of 3min. 2.4sec. in winning the Fremantle Cup.
Hampton Banner ($6.50) began like a flash from barrier three and burst straight to the front before being hotly challenged by $3.60 second fancy Rocknroll Lincoln.
Hamton Banner resisted the challenge and Gary Hall jnr restrained Rocknroll Lincoln after 550m. The early tempo was hot, and Voak, realising that the early combatants would relish a drop in the tempo, dashed Papinik, the $2.50 favourite, forward after settling in fifth place.
Papinik sprinted fast after 700m to charge past Hampton Banner and then he maintained a strong pace, with the final three 400m sections being covered in 28.8sec., 28.7sec. and 29.8sec. He won by a half-length from Hampton Banner, who ran home full of determination.
The WA-bred Papinik, who is by the New Zealand-bred stallion Advance Attack, is out of Artists Impression, a Perfect Art mare who had three starts in WA as a two-year-old in 2001 for one placing, a second to Mandeville Melody at Gloucester Park. Papinik now has an imposing record of 19 starts for 13 wins, five placings and $110,602 in prizemoney.
C C Chevron ends losing streak of 73
The perseverance of Serpentine owner-trainer Matt Scott paid off at Gloucester Park on Friday night when his indefatigable ten-year-old mare C C Chevron returned to the winning list and ended losing sequence of 73 when Emily Suvaljko drove the $13.80 chance to an all-the-way victory in the $17,000 Retravision Pace over 2536m.
C C Chevron’s win provided the icing on the cake for the 44-year-old Scott, who spent the evening at Busselton where he won the Busselton Cup with Awaitinstructions, the $3.10 favourite who put up a remarkable performance after being tightened and breaking into a fierce gallop 120m after the start of the $14,000 2680m Cup.
C C Chevron went into Friday night’s event, having been unplaced at her previous 14 starts. But she was rated perfectly in front and was able to sprint over the final 400m in 28.6sec. on her way to winning by a half-length from the $4.80 chance Quick Stride, who charged home, five wide, from eighth at the bell.
The much-travelled New Zealand-bred C C Chevron was having her 198TH start in Western Australia after being placed at each of her four New Zealand starts in 2014, winning at five of her nine Victorian starts, winning the 2015 South Australian Derby at Globe Derby Park at her only appearance in that State, and being unplaced at her only appearance in New South Wales.
C C Chevron’s 213 starts have produced 17 wins, 20 seconds and 24 thirds for stakes of $200,599. Her 198 starts in WA for Scott have resulted in 11 wins and 37 placings.
Apart from winning the Busselton Cup on Friday night, Scott was also successful at the meeting with $4.80 chance Belonero, who was driven by Mitch Miller to an all-the-way success in the $7250 Kerry Clarke Memorial. Miller and Scott combined with Miracle Mary, who finished a half-head second to Minor Catastrophe in a 2030m event.
Miller also drove Awaitinstructions in the Cup, and he drove Velvet Shadow to victory in the final event of the five-night carnival in which Scott took out the award as leading trainer.
Few gave the Tim Blee-owned Awaitinstructions any chance of winning the Busselton Cup after he was tightened about 120m after the standing start and galloped fiercely, losing at least 50 metres.
Miller did not panic and Awaitinstructions quickly made up his lost ground to race in last position. The Courage Under Fire gelding was still last with 550m to travel before he unleashed a sparkling burst of speed to charge to the front 150m later and race away to score by ten lengths from Jill Mach.
Golden Nugget plans for Mighty Ronaldo
The $200,000 Golden Nugget in December this year is the long-range target for up-and-coming star pacer Mighty Ronaldo, who gave a sample of his class when he scored an effortless victory in the Retravision, Lowest Price Guarantee Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Having his second start after a nine-month absence, the Alta Christiano four-year-old was a hot $1.30 favourite from the No. 2 barrier in the 2130m event, and Gary Hall jnr was content to take the trail behind the polemarker and pacemaker Sir Galahad.
After a slow 38.9sec. lead time and modest opening quarters of 30.2sec. and 30.1sec. Sir Galahad, driven by Callan Suvaljko charged through the third 400m section of the final mile in 27.7sec. before Hall eased Mighty Ronaldo into the clear at the 300m and the gelding surged to the front 100m from the post to win by more than two lengths from $18 chance Nota Bene Denario, who had raced without cover before taking a narrow lead on the home turn.
Mighty Ronaldo’s win came after the first-up disappointment of meeting with severe interference approaching the home turn in a qualifying heat of the Nights of Thunder two weeks earlier.
“We will look to racing him fortnightly,” said trainer Justin Prentice. “The Golden Nugget at the end of the year; that’s his major objective.”
Mighty Ronaldo, winner of the WA Derby last April, has earned $287,402 from six wins and eight placings from 21 starts.
Hotfoot It set for Northam Cup
Smart New Zealand-bred five-year-old Hotfoot It gave a strong frontrunning performance to win the 2503m RAC Members Save 5% Every Day At Retravision Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night to earn a start in the $30,000 Northam Cup at Burwood Park next Saturday night.
Hotfoot It, making his second appearance after a spell, was a $10.40 chance from the inside barrier on the front line in the stand, and Chris Voak got him away to a flying start, while the $1.18 favourite Dont Bother Me None galloped and lost about six lengths.
Dont Bother Me None settled in seventh position, and Ryan Warwick quickly urged the four-year-old forward and into the breeze after 500m.
Hotfoot It gave his rivals scant hope by dashing over the final 800m in 57.4sec., and he won by a half-length from $10 chance Captured Delight, who trailed the pacemaker before finishing with a strong three-wide burst.
Beat City, the 30m backmarker, finished powerfully from the rear to be third, while Dont Bother Me None, who moved on terms with Hotfoot It 270m from home, wilted to finish fourth.
Cliff Woodworth, deputising for his son Jason as Hotfoot It’s trainer, said that the plan for the gelding who was having his second start after a spell, was to run in the Northam Cup. Jason opted to travel to Busselton to compete with Snorkel, who had no luck and broke in running before finishing fifth in a 2030m event.
Several members of the Woodworth family bought Hotfoot It for $10,000 in the winter of 2020, and the American Ideal gelding has been a good buy, having had 21 starts for his new owners for seven wins, four placings and $44,074.
He now has had 40 starts for eleven wins and eight placings for stakes of $68,214. He is the first foal out of the Bettors Delight mare Hothooves, who was unplaced at her three starts in New Zealand.
Typhoon Banner gets the job done
New Zealand-bred five-year-old Typhoon Banner, who crashed heavily on the home turn in a heat of the Nights of Thunder two weeks before returning to Gloucester Park on Friday night, showed he had taken no ill-effects from the fall when he outclassed the opposition in the 2536m Retravision, 60 Day Priced Promise Pace.
“He was very lucky in that he just had a little bit of skin off his back legs,” said trainer-reinsman Dylan Egerton-Green. “It was nothing major. I was worse off --- rather me than him --- losing some skin off an elbow and a hip.
“Typhoon Banner had a crash landing, but it was at slow speed. I had slowed him up before he hit the ground. Treatment from a masseur and a chiropractor helped him to recover quickly.”
Typhoon Banner, who was purchased as an unraced youngster in New Zealand by Rob Tomlinson and Damian Keating, had two starts in that country for a most impressive win by seven lengths at Manawatu at his farewell appearance before coming to Western Australia.
He has proved to be a wonderfully consistent performer, with his all-the-way win on Friday night improving his record to 29 starts for ten wins, eight placings and $88,110 in prizemoney.
Typhoon Banner is by Bettors Delight and is the fifth foal out of the unraced mare When You’re Hot. He is following in the footsteps of his full-brother Cyclone Banner, who had 36 starts in WA for Tomlinson and Keating and trainer Ray Williams for 13 wins and nine placings.
He won the group 3 Chandon final in July 2020, and at his third last start in WA before being sold to America he finished third behind Wildwest in the group 2 Governor’s Cup in February 2021.
Typhoon Banner was the $1.10 favourite from the No. 1 barrier on Friday night, and he was not extended in setting the pace and winning from the $13 second fancy Arma Einstein, who trailed him throughout. After a modest early pace Typhoon Banner dashed over the final quarters in 28.5sec. and 27.4sec.
“He is not just a good frontrunner,” said Egerton-Green. “He has also been going super from behind.”
Bettorstartdreaming loves to lead
A whirlwind start and a dawdling early pace paved the way for Bettorstartdreaming’s victory in the 2536m Retravision Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Bettorstartdreaming ($2.40) and Sangue Reale ($1.85) dominated betting on the race, and Bettorstartdreaming stole a march on his rival, who was the sole runner on the back line, with a flying start from barrier No. 5.
Bettorstartdreaming drew the No. 7 barrier but came into the No. 5 spot with the scratching of two runners drawn on his inside.
Trainer-reinsman Lindsay Harper said that it was always his plan to set the pace with the speedy New Zealand-bred six-year-old, who went into the race with a losing sequence of nine, which included only two placings.
“His lead form has been very good, but his trailing form has been poor,” said Harper. “I really don’t understand it, because he was versatile in New Zealand where he didn’t have to lead to win over there.
“At the moment it appears that he has to be up in front and we were always going to let loose tonight to try to get to the top. The couple of scratchings helped. I think he has a lot of ability, but his heart and head are not what you would like with a good horse.
“Once we got away with a slow lead time and a 32.3sec. first quarter he was going to be hard to beat.” Bettorstartdreaming ran the final three quarters in 28.9sec., 28.7sec. and 29.2sec. and he won by 2m from Sangue Reale, who fought on determinedly after racing three back on the pegs and then in the breeze.
“When he leads, he looks impressive, and when he doesn’t lead, he’s disappointing,” said Harper.
Bettorstartdreaming raced 18 times in New Zealand for five wins and four placings. He now has won at five of his 35 starts in Western Australia.
Prue knows best
When Blissfullabbey was advertised for sale at $5000 in June 2020 Prue George telephoned her father Chris Willis and urged him to buy the Victorian-bred mare.
Willis, a Port Kennedy harness and thoroughbred trainer, heeded his daughter’s advice and they are enjoying their time as the owners of the mare, who is proving to be a good buy.
Blissfullabbey, racing first-up after a four-month absence, was a $4.20 chance from the No. 1 barrier in the Retravision, For All The Electrical Stuff You Love Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night, when she was driven to a strong all-the-way victory by Aiden de Campo.
The seven-year-old Blissful abbey ended a losing sequence of 20 and a 20-month drought when she dashed over the final 800m in 56.1sec. and beat $5 chance Miss Macho by a length, rating 1.58.3. She now has had 33 starts for the father-daughter combination for five wins, ten placings and $59,036 in prizemoney.
Willis explained that Blissful abbey had been plagued by feet problems, saying: “In the past three months we have treated her feet with constant hot and cold poulticing. Trevor Lindsay and the farrier have helped, and finally we have got her feet nice and clean.”
Sheetz Our Hope overcomes a problem
Talented and lightly-raced mare Sheetz Our Hope has overcome an unusual problem and she gave a typical example of her splendid natural speed when she charged home from last at the 600m to win the Retravision.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“The angle of her pedal bones is parallel with the sole,” explained part-owner and trainer Mike Cornwall. “There should be a nine degree angle, and without that she doesn’t get the full cushioning.
“X-rays revealed the problem, and she now races with frog pads on her forelegs. I am grateful that veteran farrier Larry Boag is looking after her. Apart from her feet troubles, she is sound. She has small feet but a big heart. They had plenty of reason to run her down in the straight, but they couldn’t.”
Pole marker The Kraken ($5) set the pace, with Angel In White ($7.50) in the breeze, and Medieval Man, the $2.60 favourite, enjoying the one-out, one-back trip.
Sheetz Our Hope ($4.40) was not bustled out from barrier seven and Kyle Harper was happy to keep her at the rear. She was last in the field of nine 600m from home when Harper sent her forward, three wide. She sprinted quickly and burst to the front at the 250m mark and won by a half-length from the fast-finishing $5.50 chance Martagon, rating 1.55.9 over the 2130m, with a final 400m in 28.7sec.
The WA-bred Sheetz Our Hope has inherited much of the ability of her sire Alta Christiano and dam Easton Swift. Alta Christiano raced only 18 times for 13 wins, two placings and $309,163 in stakes, while the New Zealand-bred Easton Swift earned $123,391 from her 13 wins and 12 placings from 52 starts. She won once from five New Zealand starts, and 11 times for trainer-reinsman Aldo Cortopassi from 47 starts in WA. Sheetz Our Hope has had 18 starts for eight wins, five placings and stakes of $78,118.
Tricky Miki set for classics
High-priced youngster Tricky Miki impressed when he led and sped over the final 800m in 55.5sec. before holding on to win by a head from the fast-finishing The Miki Taker in the 2130m Retravision Online Pace for three-year-olds at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice was happy with Triki Miki’s performance and said that the gelding would be set for rich classic events, likely to begin with the $50,000 Sales Classic for colts and geldings on February 25 and ending with the $200,000 WA Derby on November 4.
“He’s got a lot of speed and a fair bit of bottom,” said Prentice. “I’m trying to get his gait a hundred per cent right. He is still learning and races in a one-legged spreader. He does get a bit close (to striking a knee), and I think that worries him a bit. However, I expect that he will grow out of that.”
Prentice paid $57,500 for Tricky Miki at the 2020 APG Perth yearling sale, and he races him in partnership with several stable clients.
Tricky Miki, who was having his second start after a spell on Friday night, has already earned $106,603 from three wins and three placings from six starts, with the highlight being his easy win in the group 1 Golden Slipper last July.
Tricky Miki, who finished strongly when a close first-up second to Floe writer a fortnight earlier, was the $1.10 favourite from the No. 1 barrier, and Gary Hall jar took full advantage of the ideal draw. With Tricky Miki able to get away with a slow lead time of 39.9sec. followed by an ambling opening quarter of 31.2sec.
Swing band ($11) raced in the breeze, and he challenged strongly for the lead in the final circuit but was unable to overhaul the pacemaker. It was then left for The Miki Taker ($9) to fly home with a brilliant late burst to finish second, a head from the winner.
The Miki Taker, trained and driven by Aiden de Campo, had raced three back on the pegs in fifth position before unleashing his spectacular late charge. His stablemate Floe writer ($7), an impressive winner of three metropolitan-class events from his previous four starts, enjoyed the one-out, one-back sit, but failed to show up and finished last in the field of six runners.