A capacity field of 12 starters plus three emergencies eager for an early scratching have been paid up for the 2013 Darwin Cup on Monday with dual defending champion Hawks Bay heading the acceptors.
Set to run as the last at Fannie Bay, Race 9 at 5:35pm (local), this year’s $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m) is shaping up as a crack edition of the Top End classic.
Having contested the past four editions of the Cup, the Neil Dyer-trained Hawks Bay is back in 2013 seeking their third consecutive Darwin Cup trophy.
After playing the bridesmaid in both 2009 and 2010 the now eight-year-old Black Hawk gelding broke their Darwin Cup duck in two years back with a smart four length victory.
They successfully defended their title 12 months ago carrying 64.5kg to a tight nose victory over Bolton and will again have the top-weight on the back this year.
With barriers yet to be drawn their luck with the gates is an unknown but they are going to need every advantage to get home over these rivals with Steven Arnold to ride them on 65kg, Hawks Bay looking to bounce back from a seventh in the Metric Mile last Saturday.
The next heaviest weighted hopeful with 61kg is then Testa Rossa seven-year-old Red Colossus, a winner over 1300m here back in June in the Rant Gold Cup.
They have lost their last two Fannie Bay starts but was brave in defeat last Saturday carrying 62kg to run less than a length and a half away fourth in a 1100m sprint.
Other highly-weighted Darwin Cup acceptances then include the now Alice Springs-based Thumbtacks (60.5kg) who was formerly with Chris Waller in Sydney and the David Hayes-trained Extra Zero (57.5kg) who is one of the top fancies despite their disappointing recent form.
After plenty of spruiking Danzero seven-year-old Extra Zero, runner-up in the Victoria Derby back in 2009, failed their first run at Fannie Bay when defeated over 20 lengths to beat home just one other runner in the Metric Mile.
There’s a whole host of Darwin Cup hopefuls however coming off much better runs including the early favourite, Metric Mile winner Spartan Eagle.
To carry 56kg, which includes a two kilo penalty, the Bob Richard-trained Niello six-year-old has won four straight since June including the Metric Mile in a stunning six length effort they will be looking to emulate here.
The two other last start winners in the mix are then Stephen Brown’s gallant grey stayer The Big Steel (57kg) after their third on the trot with their last effort being over 1900m here on July 20 and their also flying stablemate Host Of The Party.
Getting in nicely with just 54.5kg, progressive Host four-year-old Host Of The Party has won their past three starts and will be ridden by Dwayne Dunn on Monday.
Formerly with Robert Smerdon in Melbourne the now Darwin local has had just two runs for their new trainer, winning both to take out the Darwin Guineas – NT Derby double before officially turning four today.
Check out the full 2013 Darwin Cup final field, weights and jockeys below with barriers to follow shortly.
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2013 Darwin Cup Final Field
Darwin Race 9 – 5:35pm (local) – 06/08/2013
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||161×439697||HAWKS BAY||Neil Dyer||Steven Arnold||0||65kg||110|
|2||910×503154||RED COLOSSUS||John Stanton||Dale Smith||0||61kg||96|
|3||0315×70844||THUMBTACKS (NZ)||Mark Nyhan||Craig Moon||0||60.5kg||95|
|4||53707×4508||EXTRA ZERO||David Hayes||Nash Rawiller||0||60kg||94|
|5||23x42311x5||THE RUFFIAN||Sheila Arnold||Paul Shiers||0||57.5kg||89|
|6||134×805274||CONSTANT FORCE||Bill & Symon Wilde||Jason Maskiell||0||57kg||88|
|7||09×0044411||THE BIG STEEL||Stephen Brown||Andrew Mallyon||0||57kg||88|
|8||x360x06834||AGRIPPA||Michael Hickmott||Reece Wheeler||0||56kg||86|
|9||9202251111||SPARTAN EAGLE||Bob Richard||Scott Hillebrand||0||56kg (inc. 2.0kg pen.)||86|
|10||7700×60545||BOLTON (NZ)||Stephen Brown||Stephen Baster||0||55kg||84|
|11||4223×35523||GENEROUS BEAU||Todd Balfour||John Powell||0||55kg||84|
|12||40×5904111||HOST OF THE PARTY||Stephen Brown||Dwayne Dunn||0||54.5kg||83|
|13e||225157×214||IGLES STAR||Chris Pollard||Ms Felicia Bergstrand (a)||0||54kg||82|
|14e||2846x263x4||PORT VELL (NZ)||Greg Connor||Ms Kacie Connor (a)||0||54kg||82|
|15e||x60745x962||PALMYRA BOY||Neil Dyer||–||0||54kg||79|