The 2017 Darwin Cup Form Guide is essential reading punters and racing fans ahead of the feature race at Fannie Bay Racecourse on Monday afternoon.
A talented and capacity field of fourteen has been confirmed to step out for the 2017 Darwin Cup and we have analysed every horse in detail, in order to help you find the race winner.
Lieder is set to start the Darwin Cup as race favourite, but will face plenty of resistance from stable mate Unbreakable, Royal Request and NT Derby winner Billet Doux.
Darwin specialist Royal Request has found typically excellent form this time in and is a live chance of winning the Darwin Cup on Monday afternoon. Second in the feature race in 2015 and fourth in 2016, the Bel Esprit gelding resumed this time for sixth in the QBE Cup (1200m), before running third in the Roant Gold Cup (1300m) and winning each of the Asian United Food Service Handicap (1600m) and Metric Mile (1600m) most recently; two key form indicators. Royal Request has been charged with overcoming a race-high 60.5kgs, but is rock-hard fit and drawn well in the middle of the Darwin Cup field.
One of three for defending Darwin Cup winner Michael Hickmott in this year’s field, Wexford Town is a debutant on the Darwin dirt on Monday and it is tough to line him up amongst this group of horses. Previously saddled by Robert Hickmott for Macedon Lodge, the Teofilo gelding is yet to show much this year and was well beaten at Morphettville in his two most-recent starts. He is drawn well and will be partnered by West Australian hoop Jarrad Noske.
Whistle Stop has yet to show his best form this time in, but he is a proven performer in the Darwin Cup and is a credible chance of saluting at double-figure odds. Second in the race in 2016, Whistle Stop trialled well leading into this campaign, but clearly required a run when seventh in the Roant Gold Cup first-up. Progressing to second in the Asian United Food Service Handicap (1600m) and sixth in the Metric Mile, the horse is rock-hard fit and will enjoy a step up to 2000m.
Pretty Blonde has been a strong and consistent performer this time in and at the time of publish, has heralded the greatest share of bets to win the 2017 Darwin Cup. A smart winner of the Alice Springs Cup (2000m) at similar conditions on May 1st, the High Rolling mare failed to fire at her first start in Darwin, but has since finished third in the Asian United Food Service Handicap and fourth in the Metric Mile. Pretty Blonde is undoubtedly at her best when racing at 2000m, but will have to overcome something of an awkward draw.
Moon Devil carries winning form into the Darwin Cup and is capable of a first-three finish in Monday’s feature race. The King Cugat gelding has timed his run of form to perfection this time; placing eighth in the Tio Insurance BM76 (1300m) and third in the Ben & Sarah For Breakfast BM75 (1600m) before winning the Buntine Handicap (1900m) by a length last time out on July 22nd. Paul Denton will take the ride from the ideal barrier 3.
War Story has produced several smart performances and results through a busy 2017 campaign, but has only been fair since arriving in the top end. Winner of the Warracknabeal Cup (1600m) when saddled by Matt Cumani in April, the Rock of Gibraltar gelding failed to beat a single runner home in his first start for Carly Cook, the Ben & Sarah For Breakfast BM75 (1600m) and only managed to beat one horse home in the Metric Mile last time out.
Harrebs Time is amidst a long and busy racing preparation, but has continued to find in his recent races and is a live chance at odds of winning the Darwin Cup. Post four-consecutive wins at Fannie Bay earlier this year, the Mugharreb gelding failed to fire in the Roant Gold Cup, but has since finished fifth in the Asian United Food Service Handicap and third in the Metric Mile. Drawn on the rails, Harrebs Time will be partnered by regular hoop Raymond Vigar.
Former Godolphin runner Unbreakable has been a strong and consistent performer this time in and has his chances of winning the Darwin Cup increased earlier this week when Blake Shinn was confirmed to the ride. The Hard Spun gelding was a multiple city winner when saddled by John O’Shea and was competitive in several black type races in 2016. Arriving in Darwin for a comfortable win in the Roant Gold Cup, Unbreakable was luckless in the Asian United Food Servie Handicap last time, but should be right in the finish of Monday’s feature race.
Veteran Darwin Cup contestant Saturday Sorcerer is always in the mix at Fannie Bay and there is nothing to say that he cannot be right in the finish once more on Monday. Capping his 2016 campaign with a smart win in the Dunkeld Cup (1600m), Saturday Sorcerer has steadily built to the task this time and arrived in Darwin for sixth in the Ben & Sarah For Breakfast BM75, before finishing a close second in the Buntine Handicap last time out. He will need to show some early pace to cross the field and take up the runner from barrier 15, but should find a reasonably soft lead.
Abu Dhabi suffered a respiratory ailment during the running of the Metric Mile last weekend, but if he can overcome that problem, is a live chance of winning the Darwin Cup at long odds. The I Am Invincible gelding ran an impressive second in the Roant Gold Cup, his first start at Fannie Bay this year and placed fourth in the Asian United Food Service Handicap, in his only other start prior to the Metric Mile. Joe Bowditch will take the ride from barrier 14.
Former Godolphin galloper has been in good form this time in and is set to jump a justifiable favourite in 2017 Darwin Cup. Winner of a mile race at Murray Bridge on April 25th, the Street Cry gelding debuted on the Darwin dirt for fifth in the Ben & Sarah For Breakfast BM75, before running third in the Buntine Handicap last time out. 2000m will be ideal and Lieder is sure to be given a gem of a ride by leading West Australian hoop William Pike, from the ideal barrier 6 and with only 54kgs in tow.
NT Derby (2000m) winner Billet Doux is a proven performer at the course and distance of the Darwin Cup, is weighted well and is a leading chance in Monday’s feature race. A comfortable winner of the Heart Foundation Handicap (1600m) at his first Fannie Bay appearance on June 24th, the Al Maher gelding ran fourth in the Darwin Guineas (1600m) in what was his only other start prior to the NT Derby. Billet Doux is drawn ideally in barrier 4 and is treated well at the weights with only 54kgs in tow.
Folk Tales has been a strong and consistent performer this time and has conditions to suit in the Darwin Cup 2017. Trialling well in the lead-up to his return this time, the Stravinsky gelding ran second in the Darwin RSL Handicap (1600m) on June 24th, before winning the Ben & Sarah For Breakfast BM75 by close to five lengths on July 8th. Fifth in the Buntine Handicap last time out, Folk Tales appears to be the forgotten runner in Darwin Cup betting markets as is worth consideration at each-way odds.
Flying Tormenta is another horse that has appeared to have timed its run of form to perfection and is not without a chance in the Darwin Cup. A smart winner of the Adelaide River Cup (1600m) on June 3rd, the Shaft mare ran seventh in the Ben & Sarah For Breakfast BM75 (1600m), before placing fourth in the Buntine Handicap last time out. A step up in distance will suit and Flying Tormenta is drawn and weighted ideally.
The final horse confirmed in the capacity Darwin Cup field, Electric Crimson faces a notable step up in class into this race and probably cannot win the feature. Fourth in the Ben & Sarah For Breakfast BM75 (1600m) on July 8th, the Bernardini gelding faded to finish a distant sixth in the Buntine Handicap last time out.