Stephen Brown’s top local galloper Bolton is the firming favourite to take out the Darwin Cup 2012 this afternoon as they attempt to win the Northern Territory’s prized race for the first time.
Scheduled as the last at Darwin tonight (Darwin Race 9 at 5:35pm) the $185,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup(2000m) field is down to 12 gallopers following the early scratchings of #2 Blackbriar, #12 The Ruffian and the emergency Granzig.
Of the remaining hopefuls it is Zabeel six-year-old Bolton, the former Lloyd Williams-owned black type winner in Melbourne dominating the Darwin Cup odds at bookmaker.com.au.
Coming off two close second place finishes at the track over a mile, firstly to reigning Darwin Cup winner Hawks Bay in the Chief Minister’s Cup and then to Sheahan in the Metric Mile on July 28, Bolton pays $3 in the latest Darwin Cup betting markets.
Drawn in barrier seven (into five) Bolton will be ridden by Stephen Baster on 57kg today, a half kilo less than the weight they had on their back for the Metric Mile at Fannie Bay last start.
Following closely in the Darwin Cup markets on $3.30 is then Bolton’s stablemate and Metric Mile winner Sheahan.
After a big four and a half length victory in the Toyota Cup over 1600m at Fannie Bay two back, Sheahan was last seen defeating Bolton by a quarter length in the Metric Mile which has served as a top Darwin Cup betting guide in recent years.
She goes up from 54kg to 55.5kg for today’s clash having been penalised for her Mile victory but is still one of the obvious chances.
While the bookies have Bolton ahead of Sheahan in the Darwin Cup odds, Brown is having a harder time separating his dynamic duo.
“They are a terrific pair of horses, they have done a real treat and I can’t slow them down at the moment,” Brown said.
“Bolton looks fantastic, but so does the other horse (Sheahan).
“They are both spot-on for the Cup and it is hard to split them.
“We’re pretty lucky to have two in the race and I’m pretty relaxed about it all.”
There are two other single figure chances then with last start Buntine Handicap winner over 1900m at the track Glare ($5) and the Neil Dyer-trained defending champ from Kyneton Hawks Bay ($5.50).
Despite their imposing record up the Top End and their historical win in the event 12 months ago, things are certainly against pseudo-local Hawks Bay today as they are allocated the massive 64.5kg topweight – 2.5kg more than they had for their four length success last year.
It will be the fourth straight year the now seven-year-old Black Hawk gelding runs in the Darwin Cup, Hawks Bay having also run second in 2009 and 2010, and Dyer knows it is going to take a huge effort to go back-to-back.
“I’ve got to say I’m probably less confident this year than what I have been the past three years but the barrier draw is a relief,” Dyer said of Hawks Bay’s inside barrier one draw.
“I just reckon the weight and the horse’s age make it a big ask.”
If successful Hawks Bay will become the first horse since Lothaway Country back in 1995 to win successive Darwin Cups.
Check out the latest Darwin Cup fixed win odds in the table below courtesy of bookmaker.com.au.
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2012 Darwin Cup Odds
Fannie Bay Race 9 – 5:35pm (local) – 06/08/2012
|1||HAWKS BAY (1)||5.50|
|4||PALMYRA BOY (4)||61.00|
|8||THE THIRD BASEMAN (5)||21.00|
|9||I AM MAGIC (14)||18.00|
|10||INTO THE SUN (2)||41.00|
|11||SEA SKYE (13)||17.00|
|12||THE RUFFIAN (8)||–|
|13||CLUB LIQQUID (11)||51.00|
*Fixed Win odds provided by bookmaker.com.au and subject to change