Trainer Stephen Brown will head to Fannie Bay in Darwin today with three strong chances in the $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m).
Brown is hoping for sweet revenge with Bolton who was beaten a nose by Hawks Bay in last year’s Darwin Cup while Host Of The Party is stepping up to Open class after beating the three year olds in the $70,000 HOT 100 Darwin Guineas (1600m) and the Skycity NT Derby (2000m).
And The Big Steel will be in the mix after winning his two lead up races on the tricky Darwin track.
The Neil Dyer trained Hawks Bay is trying for his third Darwin Cup win after beating Bolton by a nose last year but the eight year old will have to show a dramatic form reversal after finishing well down the track when seventh to Spartan Eagle in the $50,000 Sky Racing Metric Mile (1600m) at Fannie Bay, Darwin on July 27.
Brown was happy with the run of Bolton in the Metric Mile even though the seven year old was beaten almost seven lengths by Spartan Eagle.
“I’d expect Bolton to run well – if you reversed the barriers with Spartan Eagle in the Metric Mile, he probably just about gets away with the race,” Brown told ntnews.com.au
“The Big Steel races the right way for Darwin.
“I was hoping he drew the right barrier, but it’s going to be hard from 11.”
Host Of The Party, to be ridden by top- Melbourne jockey Dwayne Dunn, can join past Northern Territory greats Brinney and Ventilago in the record books as Triple Crown winners if he can get across the line in first position today.
Brinney, 1989, and Ventilago 1996, both completed the Darwin Guineas, NT Derby and Darwin Cup treble and Brown said that only a special horse would be able to achieve that result.
“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 (Host Of The Party) 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.”
Metric Mile winner Spartan Eagle remains the Darwin Cup favourite at $4.20 with Host Of The Party the second pick at $6.50 with the David Hayes trained Extra Zero still in the betting at $7.
The Big Steel is rated a $8 chance with stablemate Bolton sharing the next line of betting with Red Collossus at $10.