Leading Northern Territory trainer Gary Clarke is giving Lightinthenite a great chance of winning back to back Darwin Cups at Fannie Park today.
Lightinthenite made it a one act affair in last year’s $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m) with a nine length demolition of the twelve horse field and Clarke said that the nine year old feels just as good going into this year’s version today.
“The old horse is quite good, I am pretty happy with him going into the race,” Clarke told Racing Ahead.
“I am really happy with him now. He is physically and mentally and everything, he is as good as he can be.”
Lightinthenite has had one run since winning the 2015 Darwin Cup and resumed for a fourth to today’s rival Whistle Stop in the $55,000 Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m) at Fannie Bay on July 9.
Clarke said he was slightly disappointed with that first up effort but said he had excuses and expects the chestnut gelding to win his second Darwin Cup if he produces his best.
“It is just a matter of if he decides today is the day he wants to give us a hundred per cent, it will be a similar result to last year,” Clarke said.
“He is by far and above the best horse I have ever had and he is one of the best horses I have seen race up her, the stayer anyway.
“He decides he wants to give us one hundred per cent today, it will be game over.”
Lightinthenite is currently on the second line of betting at $4.50 with Ladbrokes.com.au behind stablemate Finke at $3.80.
Clarke also has a high opinion of Finke and said that if Lightinthenite failed to produce his best, Finke will be the one to beat.
“If he (Lightinthenite) doesn’t that other little horse (Finke) is as good as any other horse in the race,” Clarke said.
“So if the old horse doesn’t perform today he will be right in the mix himself.”
Finke is in line to collect the $100,000 Ladbrokes Triple Crown Bonus if he can will the Darwin Cup 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.
Clarke is also happy with the progress of Finke since his win in the Ladbrokes NT Derby and expects a good performance against the older horses.
“He has done nothing wrong. I suppose the big test for him is up against the tougher seasoned horses to what he has been running against,” Clarke said.
“He has raced against the older horses along the way and beat them and beat them pretty well as well.”
“He probably a bit of a crowd favourite because everybody have been following him all the way through. He has jumped every hurdle as he has gone so the crowd are sort of behind him a fair bit as well.”
Darwin Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.80 Finke, $4.50 Lightinthenite, $5 Saturday Sorcerer, $6 Royal Request, $7 Our Valdivia, $10 Whistle Stop, $21 Big Man, $26 Moon Devil, $41 Canny Ballad, Spartan Eagle, $61 Orion.