Gary Clarke’s reigning champion Lightinthenite is the early favourite to successfully defend his title in Monday week’s Darwin Cup 2016 despite the stayer having had just one start over the past 12 months.
Turning nine on August 1 for the Horse’s Birthday and the running of the $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m), Galileo gelding Lightinthenite won the Northern Territory’s premier race last winter by a runaway nine lengths.
Setbacks have restricted the galloper to just the one run since however when he returned to racing at Darwin on July 9 and finished fourth to Whistle Stop in the Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m).
Also runner-up in the 2014 Darwin Cup, Lightinthenite carried 60kg to victory in the race 12 months ago and had a hefty 64kg on his back in the Chief Minister’s Cup when defeated under four lengths.
The 2016 Darwin Cup weights have been released and Lightinthenite is the top weight with 63kg, but remains favourite in early betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $3.80 to go back-to-back in the race for the first time since Hawks Bay (2011-2012) just a few years ago.
Close second favourite in the all-in Darwin Cup odds at $4.20 to keep an impressive winning streak going is the fellow Clarke-trained stablemate Finke.
The Turffontein gelding turns four on Darwin Cup Day and has been in stellar from winning his past eight starts on the trot including the Darwin Guineas – NT Derby double this month.
He is now in line for the coveted Darwin Triple Crown and Ladbrokes $100,000 bonus a win in the Darwin Cup would secure; a feat just two horses to date have achieved with Brinney (1989) and Ventilago (1996).
Finke carted 58kg in both his recent feature wins and will relish a drop back to 54.5kg in the Darwin Cup sitting top of the ballot.
Close third favourite in the Darwin Cup odds at $4.60 is the Angela Forster-trained mare Montalto, a rising seven-year-old running in Saturday’s traditional lead-up – the $50,000 Metric Mile (1600m).
The daughter of Court Of Jewels comes off a second in the Chief Minister’s Cup when defeated one and a quarter lengths by Whistle Stop who she faces off against again in the Metric Mile on way to the Darwin Cup.
Montalto carried 56kg last start and goes up to the 59kg on Saturday, but will go back to 56kg for the Darwin Cup bid.
Also in top form and running in the Metric Mile before the Darwin Cup is the Lisa Lefoe-trained Our Valdivia, a Don Edurado gelding who has won his past two on the trot over 1600m at the track.
He drops three kilos from his last start winning weight to 55.5kg for the Metric Mile at his preferred track / distance before going down to the 54kg minimum if connections pay the final Darwin Cup field acceptance.
Our Valdivia pays $8 currently for the August 1 highlight, just ahead of Saturday Sorcerer ($9) and the aforementioned Whistle Stop ($9) who round out the single-figure hopes in futures betting.
Jason Manning now trains Saturday Sorcerer who was disqualified from the 2014 Darwin Cup, which he finished first in, due to a failed drug test when prepared by the currently suspended Stuart Gower.
Saturday Sorcerer has run second at Darwin in his two recent July runs firstly over 1600m and then over 1900m behind Royal Request on July 9 and will drop from 59kg that run to 54kg in the Darwin Cup.
Whistle Stop meanwhile has the outside alley (10 of 10) in this weekend’s Metric Mile carrying 58.5kg, a notable rise from the 54kg the Dick Leech-trained Street Sense gelding carried to victory last time out.
In the Darwin Cup weights the galloper is back to 55.5kg.
Check out the full Darwin Cup 2016 weights and ballot order below before heading to Ladbrokes.com.au for the complete early odds on the feature!
2016 Darwin Cup Weights
Darwin Racecourse – 01/08/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Ballot||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|2||x9045x6591||ROYAL REQUEST||G||6||Neil Dyer||2||54.5kg||83|
|5||x065755541||WHISTLE STOP||G||6||Dick Leech||5||55.5kg||85|
|6||4693110×22||SATURDAY SORCERER||G||7||Jason Manning||6||54kg||82|
|7||1770×11230||BIG MAN||G||6||Gary Clarke||7||54kg||81|
|8||1637234663||MOON DEVIL||G||8||Angela Forster||8||54kg||81|
|10||x27357x527||ORION (NZ)||G||6||Kerry Petrick||10||54kg||78|
|11||1890×48370||SPARTAN EAGLE||G||9||Bob Richard||11||54kg||78|
|12||3523393511||OUR VALDIVIA (NZ)||G||6||Lisa Lefoe||12||54kg||77|
|13||5860x4x756||CANNY BALLAD||G||7||Michael Hickmott||13||54kg||77|
|15||x005627x34||PRETTY BLONDE||M||8||Kym Healy||15||54kg||75|
|16||1425134222||ABU DHABI||G||4||Lloyd Kennewell||16||54kg||73|
|17||475×813315||FLYING TORMENTA||M||5||John Peacock||17||54kg||73|
|19||0223651745||MOONLIGHT HUSSLER||G||5||Danny Penna||19||54kg||61|