Gary Clarke’s flying three-year-old Finke is on track to become the first Darwin Triple Crown winner in two decades with the NT Derby champ set to back-up in the Darwin Cup 2016 next month at Fannie Bay.
The locally trained son of Turffontein extended his winning streak to eight straight on Saturday with an impressive win for the punters as the odds-on favourite in the $135,000 Ladbrokes NT Derby (2000m).
That followed an earlier win in the opening leg of the coveted but rare Darwin Triple Crown when running away by over four lengths in the $70,000 Darwin Guineas (1600m) on July 2.
He now boasts a perfect five-from-five record at his home track and an overall record of eight victories from a dozen career starts having kicked off his career in Adelaide.
His opening four career runs were in South Australia where he failed to finish in the money, the move to Top End uncovering his winning form.
Clarke has been building the rising four-year-old up in distance over the year with Finke’s first win in the NT being over 1000m on January 2.
He could next face his toughest test to date on Monday August 1 in the $200,000 Darwin Cup (2000m), raced over the same track and distance as the NT Derby and known as the Northern Territory’s Holy Grail of races.
Clarke though isn’t confirming the Darwin Cup bid just yet, saying he would see how the horse pulled through his Derby success before locking in the appearance.
“That was a really good win,” Clarke told the NT News post-win on Saturday.
“There was a bit of cat and mouse going on there in the early stages, and he had to do some extra work but he toughed it out real well.
“He’s not a stunning horse to look at but he keeps getting it done — I haven’t found the bottom of him yet.
“I will wait to see how he pulls up and make a decision on whether we press on to the Cup come Wednesday.”
Not only will Finke be competing for the lucrative first prize money should he line-up in the Darwin Cup field, he will also be racing for a $100,000 Triple Crown bonus.
Only two horses to date have secured the Darwin Guineas – NT Derby – Darwin Cup treble: Brinney (1989) and Ventilago (1996).
More recently The Ruffian (2011) and Host Of The Party (2013) won the opening two legs before failing to get the job done in the Darwin Cup.
Finke was a $5,000 bargain buy as a yearling and has already amassed over $254,000 in prize money for connections.
Stay tuned for all the latest on the upcoming Ladbrokes Darwin Cup right here at Races.com.au, while race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au are offering the best betting odds and options on the race!