Day At The Track

Minstrel calls the tune

12:04 AM 30 Dec 2019 NZDT
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Ricky May and Minstrel
Ricky May and Minstrel
Bruce Stewart Photo

The Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Harness Racing Stakes at Gore last Friday was the most talked about race of the day. 

The field, albeit small in numbers, was packed with possibilities and proved to be an early indication of how exciting the Southern Supremacy Stakes could be later in the season.

From a wide draw Matty Williamson used plenty of gas early with second favourite Spirit Of St Louis and out of the first bend he was in front with favourite Minstrel and Ricky May dropping in to trail.

“I used him up a bit early. I would have been quite keen to stay in front but it was just the way it worked out,” said May referring to the early rush.

Spirit Of St Louis stayed in front and sprinted hard with 400 metres to run. But Minstrel proved too powerful at the finish getting up to beat a gallant Spirit Of St Louis by three quarters of a length.

“He does give me the feel of being a good horse. He’s only going to get better because it’s only his fourth start today,” May said in summarising his drive on Minstrel.

The three year old gelding by Rocknroll Hanover is trained at Woodend Beach by David and Catherine Butt.

The winning time was 2-45.7 with the last 800 metres run in 56.1 and the 400 metres in 26.6 which was outstanding considering the rain and hail which was falling at the time.

It was Minstrel’s second win in the province and he’s now fully qualified for the Supremacy Final in April which the Butts won with Ohoka Texas in 2011.

Minstrel has been staying with local trainer Brett Gray at Ryal Bush for the last two weeks and impressively won his previous start at Winton seven days ago.

“It was a better field today than last time. Brett thought he’d improved a bit. I think he might be right.”

Of the beaten brigade Spirit Of St Louis, after leading in trying conditions, was very brave when running second and the run by Pembrook Playboy for third just two lengths from the winner would encourage his connections to look at travelling north for some the bigger three year old races in Canterbury.

By Bruce Stewart


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