After winning their two debut runs in Darwin for new trainer Stephen Brown, flying four-year-old Host Of The Party is after a rare hat-trick with a win in this afternoon’s $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m).
Due to run as Race 9 at 5:35pm (local time) the 2013 Darwin Cup is shaping up as a crack staying showdown by a field of both local and interstate hopes.
Current Darwin Cup odds are led by last start Metric Mile winner Spartan Eagle ($4.20), the local Bob Richard-trained six-year-old shooting for their fifth on the trot.
Not far behind in Darwin Cup betting paying $6 is then one of three chances for Brown to secure his former home town cup, Host Of The Party.
The Host gelding is also in top form having won their past three starts.
The first was back in Melbourne when prepared by Robert Smerdon before being transferred to Brown’s care in the Northern Territory.
They then went on to take out their opening two starts at Fannie Bay carrying 58kg to victory in both the Darwin Guineas over the mile and then the NT Derby over 2000m on July 20, the latter by a very impressive three lengths.
While they step out against older rivals for the Cup, Host Of The Party still looks very well positioned.
For one they drop back to just 54.5kg and will have Victorian jockey Dwayne Dunn travel over for the ride, Dunn having ridden them three back for their Geelong win.
For another they are proven over the Darwin Cup distance, a big advantage especially after they came up trumps with barrier two.
“There were only good things to come out of the Derby,” Brown told NT News.
“He’s a dead set 2000m horse and is going to have no problem with the distance.
“It is hard to get a line where the (last season) three-year-olds stand in the Darwin Cup, but they normally run a good race.
“He’s drawn barrier two and he should be right there.
“Dwayne Dunn is coming up to ride him.”
However history says the task ahead is a tough one.
Just two horses have won the Darwin Guineas – NT Derby – Darwin Cup triple crown in the same year with Brinney (1989) and most recently Ventilago (1996).
A number of other champions have tried and failed including the now Fannie Bay legend Hawks Bay.
They were defeated as the odds-on favourite in the 2009 Darwin Cup by Activation coming back to run second again in 2010 before taking out the classic for the past two years straight – a possible third to come this afternoon.
While it’s certainly daunting, former top jockey Brown is keeping his hopes high knowing in the racing business anything is possible.
“The two horses that won the Triple Crown were very good horses – they had strong form when they arrived,” Brown said.
“I’m doubtful if he is in that same category because he won a maiden and Rating 62 in Victoria before he arrived, but stranger things have happened.
“He was very immature when he got here and has grown heaps.”
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