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Short priced favourite Zahspeed has drawn in close at gate two in the barrier draw for the $200,000 Carlton Miss Darwin Cup (2000m) at Fannie Bay in Darwin on Monday.

Zahspeed, above, is the short priced favourite for the 2018 Darwin Cup. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Zahspeed, above, is the short priced favourite for the 2018 Darwin Cup. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

A final field of twelve plus three emergencies was released on Thursday with the barrier draw being conducted at Raintree Park in the Darwin Mall on Friday morning.

The Gary Clarke trained Zahspeed has been installed the $2.80 favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au after winning his last Darwin Cup lead up run in the $60,000 Chief Minster’s Cup (1600m) by five lengths a fortnight ago.

Zahspeed’s stablemate Kifaah collected the runner’s up cheque and will jump from beside the favourite in barrier three.

Kifaah has been marked at $15 with Richie Oakford in the saddle while Clarke’s stable rider Brendon Davis will ride Zahspeed again after steering him to his dominant last start win.

Champion Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman had offered to ride Zahspeed in the Darwin Cup but Clarke’s wife Sharlene said the Top End’s leading trainer was happy for local jockey and stable rider Brendon Davis to ride the seven year old again.

“Hugh is mates with some of Zahspeed’s owners, and he put his hand up to ride him in this year’s Cup,” Clarke’s wife Sharlene told the NT News.

“But Gary said no – he wanted to give the ride to our stable jockey, Brendon Davis.

“Brendon has ridden horses for us all year round, in trackwork and during the wet season, and Gary wanted to do the right thing by him with a lot of money being up for grabs in this race.

Bowman did steer Clarke’s first Darwin Cup winner Lightinthenite to a nine lengths victory in 2015.

The South Australian trained Turf Man is the baby of the field, having only turned four on the horse’s birthday on Wednesday, is the second favourite at $4.20 and will jump from gate nine with Sairyn Fawke in the saddle.

The John Hickmott trained Turf Man only broke through for his maiden win four starts back at Port Augusta on June 14 and with two more wins from his next three starts, including the $135,000 Ladbrokes NT Derby (2000m) at Fannie Bay in Darwin and finds himself as one of the main fancies for the Darwin Cup.

Hichmott will also saddle up Lieder (Jamie Kah, barrier 4) who is next in the betting at $6.50 while the Richard Laming trained Folk Tales (Jason Lyon, barrier 5) is the only other runner under the $10 mark at $8.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.