Minstrel Faces Mighty Task From Horror Draw

19 April 2024 | Adam Hamilton
Deni Roberts - Vegas Strip

Deni Roberts - Vegas Strip Photo by Pacepix

CO-TRAINER Greg Bond admits a horror draw has changed plans with stable star Minstrel in Friday night's $1.25mil Group 1 Nullarbor at Gloucester Park.

No pacer in the elite 10-horse field is racing better than Minstrel, with six wins from his past seven starts, but he now faces the daunting task of having to come from the worst draw and hardest run to win Australia's second-richest race.

"We all groaned," Bond said. 

"He's as good as we've had him and we hoped to be in a position to be able to dictate the race to a few others, but now everyone gets the chance to dictate to him from out there."

"I know drawing three or four doesn't make you a good thing, but it would sure make life easier than out there."

"Whatever way you look at it now and however Deni (Roberts) drives him, he's really going to have to earn it the hard way."

But Minstrel, a winner of 24 of his 60 starts and $835,938, has shown he can do work and win.

"Yes, there's not many in the race who could do plenty of work and still be right there at the finish, but he's one, especially the way he's going at the moment," Bond said.

"I think he's as good as we've had him, and he'll need to be now."

Minstrel represents an opportunity for young gun Deni Roberts to further cement her role as stable driver for Greg and Skye Bond by snaring the second Group 1 win of her emerging career.

Roberts, 28, boasts almost 600 career wins and landed her first Group 1 victory last September on the Team Bond-trained Vegas Strip in the Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park.

"She stepped into a big role as our stable driver last year and there were a few who questioned it, but Deni has handled it superbly," Greg Bond said.

"She's such an important part of our team, and we're incredibly proud of what she's become as a driver and a person.

"It would certainly add to winning a race like this if we shared it with Deni."

Roberts is one of three top female drivers in the Nullarbor, headed by multiple Victorian premiership-winning Kate Gath.

Gath, who will drive former Miracle Mile winner Catch A Wave from gate four, boasts over 2100 career wins, including a staggering 54 at Group 1 level.

The other female is dual Group 1-winner Emily Suvaljko. The 23-year-old, who is nearing 600 career wins, partners polished big race performer Mighty Ronaldo from gate two.

The Justin Prentice-trained Mighty Ronaldo has been one of the best-backed runners since Tuesday's barrier draw, firming from $21 to $11.

Hot And Treacherous remains a clear $2.60 favourite from Spirit Of St Louis, Catch A Wave and Minstrel at $5.50.

·      Adam Hamilton is a paid contributor writing on harness racing for News Corp.


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