Leading Northern Territory trainer Gary Clarke will saddle up the two top fancies, Lightinthenite and Finke, in the $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m) at Fannie Bay on Monday.
Finke is in line to collect a Ladbrokes Triple Crown $100,000 bonus if he can win the Darwin Cup and is currently fighting for favouritism his stablemate Lightinthenite.
Both Clarke runners’ prices are fluctuating around the $3.40, $3.50 mark with the top spot alternating frequently on Friday afternoon.
Lightinthenite is chasing back to back Darwin Cup wins and rounded off his preparation with a fourth to Darwin Cup rival Whistle Stop in the $55,000 Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m) at Fannie Bay on July 9.
While Finke put himself in line for the $100,000 bonus by 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 said that Finke was still on the rise and can improve on his last start NT Derby win.
“That was a really good win,” trainer Gary Clarke told the NT News.
“There was a bit of cat and mouse going on there in the early stages, and he had to do some extra work but he toughed it out real well.
“He’s not a stunning horse to look at but he keeps getting it done — I haven’t found the bottom of him yet.”
Finke has drawn barrier eight with regular rider Brendon Davis in the saddle again while Lightinthenite has drawn closer to the inside at five with Paul Shiers taking the ride again.
Third favourite Our Valdivia ($4.80) put himself into Darwin Cup calculations with a win last Saturday in the $50,000 Sky Racing Metric Mile (1600m) at Fannie Bay and part owner Greg Stewart is very excited to have live chance in the Darwin Cup.
“It was a very exciting result for us,” Stewart told NT News.
Paul Denton has steered Our Valdivia (barrier 3) to victory at her last three starts and has the mount again, Stephen Ridler rides Whistle Stop from gate ten and Tommy Berry takes the resins on Royal Request who will jump from the inside gate.
Whistle Stop at $7.50 and Royal Request at $8.50 are the only other runners under the $10 mark in the twelve horse field.
Darwin Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.40 Lightinthenite, $3.50 Finke, $4.80 Our Valdivia, $7.50 Whistle Stop, $8.50 Royal Request, $11 Saturday Sorcerer, $16 Big Man, $19 Moon Devil, $26 Canny Ballad, $34 Spartan Eagle, $51 Orion, Kayno.