One of the outsiders of the field Canny Ballad scored an upset win in the $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m) at Fannie Bay on Monday.
Canny Ballad went into the Darwin Cup on the back of a sixth to Royal Request in the $45,000 Buntine Handicap (1900) at Fannie Bay on July 16 and was sent out as a $31 chance with Ladbrokes.com.au.
First emergency Canny Ballad gained a start when the well fancied Montalto and Kayno were scratched and the seven year old went on to win trainer Michael Hickmott’s third Darwin Cup.
The Murray Bridge based trainer had previously won the Darwin Cup with General Market in 2007 and Activation in 2009 and was very excited to win the Top End’s feature race for a third time.
“It’s unbelievable — this is my Holy Grail and this is the race I strive to win more than anything — I love it,” Hickmott told the NT News.
“This is the place I got my start in racing and these are the people who got me to where I am today.
“I’ll never forget that and I’m just on top of the moon.”
“It’s an amazing day and he’ll come back for sure — and I’ll be back for sure, too.”
Hickmott moved from Darwin to Murray Bridge five years ago but still considers the Northern Territory capital his home.
Canny Ballad kicked off his career with the late Guy Walter before being moved to Joe Pride’s stables then onto John Thompson before landing in the hands of Hickmott.
Yesterday’s run was the fifth time Canny Ballad had been to the races for Hickmott, recording his first win for the stable.
Darwin Cup winning jockey Raymond Vigar settled Canny Ballad in behind the pace before letting him go in the straight to record a three and a quarter lengths win over the Dick Leech trained Whistle Stop ($11).
“It is an absolute thrill to win the Darwin Cup, words can’t explain how much this means to me,” Vigar said.
“I just rode him nice and quiet, I let them go mad in front.
“Coming to the turn I had to grab a hold because we were going so well and then when he got to the outside he just really let down and picked them up.”
The Gary Clarke trained $2.80 favourite Finke raced on the pace and plugged away in the straight to be a further six lengths away in third spot with stablemate and last year’s Darwin Cup winner Lightinthenite a well beaten seventh.
Finke missed out on claiming a $100,000 Bonus after becoming eligible for the Ladbrokes Triple Crown Bonus after winning the first two legs of the three race series at Darwin’s Fannie Bay racecourse, the $70,000 Hot 100 Darwin Guineas (1600m) on July 2 and the $135,000 Ladbrokes NT Derby (2000m) on July 16.