Article from NTNews
RACING fans were treated to yet another tremendous day of action on Day 4 of the Darwin Cup Carnival at Fannie Bay yesterday.
Having won seven straight since arriving in the Territory, star three-year-old Finke had captured most of the headlines leading into the feature event, the $135,000 Ladbrokes NT Derby (2000m).
The pressure was on Finke to make it eight straight and thankfully for punters and connections the race went to script. Sent out a warm favourite, the Gary Clarke-trained gelding jumped smartly but was forced to sit three wide on the speed in the early stages.
Shortly thereafter, jockey Brendon Davis allowed Finke a little rein and the poster boy of NT racing rolled to the front.
Finke relaxed into his familiar rhythm as Davis endeavoured to grab some cheap sections down the back straight.
Second favourite Abu Dhabi (Kim Gladwin), just as he did in the Darwin Guineas (1600m), was again forced to travel three deep with no cover as the field settled down.
No sooner had Finke begun to dictate terms he was joined by Paul Shiers on Jigalong, who strode alongside to mount a challenge.
Shiers, believing that making it a true staying test might be his best chance of cracking Finke, applied the blowtorch as field made their approach towards the home turn.
Just as he has done on many occasions Finke dug deep and found another gear and strode away from his rivals as the field cornered for home.
The Lloyd Kennewell trained Abu Dhabi from Adelaide rallied and set out after Finke but the son of Turrfontein would not be denied going on to win by a length and a quarter in the run to the line.
Abu Dhabi held down second in a repeat of the exacta from the Darwin Guineas and the Phillip Cole trained filly The Wild Side (Raymond Vigar) finished third.
“That was a really good win” trainer Gary Clarke said.
“There was a bit of cat and mouse going on there in the early stages, and he (Finke) had to do some extra work but he toughed it out real well.”
By winning the Darwin Guineas and NT Derby, Finke has now captured the first two legs of the Ladbrokes $100,000 Triple Crown bonus.
The third leg is the Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m) on August 1.
“He’s not a stunning horse to look at but he keeps getting it done — I haven’t found the bottom of him yet,” Clarke said. “I will wait to see how he pulls up and make a decision on whether we press on to the Cup come Wednesday.”
Meanwhile, the Neil Dyer trained five-year-old gelding Royal Request booked his place in the Darwin Cup field on the first Monday in August by taking out the Million Dollar Fish Buntine Handicap (1900m).
Royal Request, who finished second behind Lightinthenite in the Cup last year, beat Saturday Sorcerer (Vanessa Arnott) and Moon Devil (Carl Spry) to make it back to back wins in the Buntine.
In other highlights yesterday, the Merv Rumble trained Cadman again gave them a start and a beating in the Signcity Trobis 3YO (1200m),
Gary Clarke’s Handsome Tycoon — who won the Pioneer Sprint (1200m) in April during the Alice Springs Cup Carnival — thumped a strong field of sprinters in the Ladbrokes Odds Boost WFA (1200m) in a performance that will surely see the son of Not A Single Doubt be installed favourite for the Palmeston Sprint (1200m) on July 30.