The Gary Clarke trained Lightinthenite has been installed as the early favourite for the $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m) at Fannie Bay in Darwin on August 1.
Lightinthenite is one of four gallopers Clarke has nominated and the rising nine year old heads the market order at Ladbrokes.com.au at $3.80 as he tries to win back to back Darwin Cups.
Clarke’s other horses among the nominations are the $4 second favourite Finke, Big Man at $11 and $34 outsider Celebrakti.
Lightinthenite has only been in Clarke’s stable for three runs after previously being trained by John O’Shea in Sydney and Jarrod McLean in Victoria.
While under the care of O’Shea, Lightinthenite performed well at Group level with his three Group 1 appearances resulting in a fourth to Fat Al in the 2012 $500,000 Epsom (1600m) at Randwick, a sixth in the 2013 $500,000 Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben and a ninth in the 2013 $2m Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick.
Clarke had immediately success with the Galileo gelding and he won first up for the stable in a 1600m Handicap at Fannie Bay in July last year before going on to win the Darwin Cup.
Lightinthenite then had a long layoff before resuming for a fourth to Whistle Stop in the Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m), the same race he won last year before his win in the 2015 Darwin Cup.
Clarke will also saddle up the in-form Finke who has won his last eight starts and is in line to win a $100,000 Bonus if he can win the Darwin Cup after having won the $70,000 Hot 100 Darwin Guineas (1600m) and the $135,000 Ladbrokes NT Derby (2000m) at his last two starts.
Ladbrokes.com.au have offered the $100,000 bonus for the connections of any horses that can win the Ladbrokes Triple Crown, the Hot 100 Darwin Guineas, the Ladbrokes NT Derby and the Darwin Cup.
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.
“I will wait to see how he pulls up and make a decision on whether we press on to the Cup come Wednesday.”
Big Man put a blot on his previous good form with a last start 11th to Whistle Stop in the Chief Minister’s Cup following his third in the 1300m Gold Cup at Fannie Bay on June 25.
Four runs back Big Man won the $35,000 Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m) at Alice Spring before running second to Montalto in the $110,000 XXXX Gold Alice Springs Cup (2000m) at Alice Springs on May 2.
Rising seven year old Celebrakti is still racing in restricted grade and heads to the Darwin Cup on the back of a second in a 1600m 0 -70 Handicap at Fannie Bay on July 2.
Darwin Cup market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.80 Lightinthenite, $4 Finke, $4.80 Montalto, $7.50 Abu Dhabi, Our Valdivia, $8 Whistle Stop, $11 Big Man, Royal Request, Saturday Sorcerer, $13 Orion, $17 Flying Tormenta, Pretty Blonde, Moon Devil, $21 Canny Ballad, $34 Celebrakti, Spartan Eagle, $41 Kayno, $51 Adjuster, $81 Moonlight Hussler.