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Veteran 10-year-old Ihtsahymn entered the history books again up in the Territory on Monday, the lovable grey going back-to-back in the Darwin Cup results for 2020.
Last season the former Group 1 Kingston Town Classic winner became the first Western Australian horse to win the popular showdown, and he returned for an emotional title defence in the Follow $100,000 Great Northern Darwin Cup (2050m) in 2020.
Broome horseman Rob Gulberti was only a rookie when his Ihtiram gelding, formerly prepared in Perth legend Fred Kersley in WA and for a stint by Patrick Payne in Melbourne, won his first Darwin Cup.
He kept the old warhorse fresh following the win with just the two starts over the past 12 months and it paid off in a remarkable training effort.
Fellow veteran, jockey Peter Hall, was reduced to tears when celebrating back-to-back Darwin Cup victories aboard Ihtsahymn with the horse lobbing the hefty 61.5kg top weight.
“He came here last year and won but most horses are fragile on this type of racing because it’s so hard,” Hall told Sky Racing post-win.
“For some reason, the harder it is, the better he goes for whatever reason.
“He’s had foot issues and Gully (trainer Rob Gulberti) has done an amazing job.”
Despite the big kilos, the reigning Darwin Cup champ started the $3.40 favourite and didn’t disappoint saluting in a brave half-length victory over the Gary Clarke-trained Paghman ($8) with roughie hope Ash Grey ($21) under a length of the winner in third.
Ash Grey led the Darwin Cup field into the turn for home, and despite not giving Hall full confidence in the run, Ihtsahymn showed true grit to lift inside the final half-furlong and chase down the front runner for the deserving victory.
“He’s an amazing horse. He just changed stride about 10 times but he’s got the will to win,” Hall said.
“He’s had foot issues and I could feel it going to the barriers I could feel him going into the gates and I could feel him in the run.
“He was hurting chasing that grey horse (Ash Grey) and he’s just better than all of us.
“Why does he not lay down like the rest of them? Why doesn’t he?”
2020 Darwin Cup Results
|1||1||IHTSAHYMN||Rob Gulberti||Peter Hall||2||61.5kg||$3.40F|
|2||9||PAGHMAN||Gary Clarke||Wayne Davis||0.5L||6||54kg||$8|
|3||8||ASH GREY||Terry Gillett||Terry Treichel||0.9L||5||54kg||$21|
|4||4||TURNBERRY||Stephen Brown||Robbie Fradd||4.4L||4||57.5kg||$17|
|5||12||ROSHERVILLE||Tayarn Halter||Raymond Vigar||7.7L||1||54kg (cd 55kg)||$17|
|6||2||SAVATOXL||Gary Clarke||Kim Gladwin||10.5L||9||61kg||1.0kg||$6|
|7||3||LIVE AND FREE (NZ)||Gary Clarke||Jarrod Todd||16.3L||7||59.5kg||$9.50|
|8||6||LOTION||Angela Forster||Paul Gatt||17.6L||3||56.5kg||$21|
|9||11||SAFETY DANCE||Dick Leech||Ms Anna Jordsjo||27.3L||10||54kg||$81|
|10||10||BUDGET KING||Garry Lefoe||Paul Shiers||40.7L||8||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$4|
|5||MALAISE||Dick Leech||Sairyn Fawke||0|
|7||HANDSOME RETURN (NZ)||Gary Clarke||Paul Denton||0|
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