Neil Dyer has engaged the services of multiple Group One winning jockey Steven Arnold as he attempts to win the 2011 Darwin Cup with two time runner up Hawks Bay.
Hawks Bay has finished second in the last two Darwin Cups and Dyer is hoping the experienced jockey can land him the race that has so far eluded him.
“It’s great to have Steven on board. He’s from the Northern Territory and he knows the track so well,” Dyer said.
“He told us early on he was likely to be up here for a holiday, but when he said he’d turn it into a working holiday and ride Hawks Bay for us we were over the moon.”
Hawks Bay has had some success at the Fannie Bay track, but so far the cup has eluded him.
In 2009 he saluted in the Northern Territory Derby, before tasting defeat in the cup. Last year he was fourth in the Chief Ministers Cup and second in the Metric Mile before going on to the cup.
This time round his preparation has been almost faultless. His campaign started with a win the 1800m Alan Pedley Handicap at Caulfield, where he beat home a handy filed which included Fanjura, Yallingup and The Tiger. He then showed his versatility when he won the Bernborough Club Cup over 1000m with 63.5 kg on his back.
He was again forced to carry a big weight (64.5kg) in the Roant Gold Cup, and battled away well to finish third. He was disappointing when he finished down the track in the Chief Ministers Cup, but showed that he is back to his best with an impressive win in the Metric Mile, where he was forced to carry 63kg.
Hawks Bay has been hit with 59kg in the Darwin Cup, which is three kilos more than he was forced to carry last year. However in his recent rides he has shown he has the ability to carry a big weight.
One person that will be hoping Arnold does not taste success in the Darwin Cup is his own mother Sheila. Sheila Arnold will saddle up The Ruffian in the race, and if he can salute, his connections will pocket a $100,000 bonus by virtue of his wins in the Northern Territory Derby and Darwin Guineas. Sheila Arnold has also looked beyond the local riders for her cup chance and has engaged Darley hoop Kerrin McEvoy.
Dyer will also saddle up multiple Northern Territory winner Palmyra Boy in the Darwin Cup. Palmyra Boy won his second successive Roant Gold Cup in June before saluting in the Chief Ministers Cup, where he beat home Hawks Bay. He was then third in the Metric Mile behind his stable mate, and Dyer is confident the horse can produce over 2000m.
The Ruffian is favourite for the 2011 Darwin Cup at $3.00 while Hawks Bay has also been well backed and is second in the market at $3.20. Palmyra Boy is currently rated a $10.00 chance.