Emma Lines’ star continues to shine in Darwin after yet another winning double at Fannie Bay on Saturday.
The apprentice booted four-year-old gelding Lord Fenrir (+450) home in a 1300m maiden before five-year-old gelding Turnstar (+340 fav) triumphed over 1100m at 0-58 level for trainer Phil Cole.
Since returning from Queensland’s Simpson Desert Racing Carnival in late August-early September, where she rode for Cole at Betoota, Birdsville, and Bedourie, the teenager has featured at four Darwin race meetings for nine wins.
A treble on September 23, Lines’ first day back at Darwin since Cup Day on August 7, was followed by winning doubles in three October meetings.
The 17-year-old, who managed three wins over two days at Birdsville before landing a double at Bedourie, is now leaving her mark in the Top End and Country jockeys’ premiership.
With 12 wins this season, Lines is second behind four-time champion jockey Jarrod Todd (15).
To finish third behind Todd and Sonja Logan in the 2022/23 premiership with 21 wins was outstanding considering she only debuted last December.
Lines, who won her first race in her first race start on Cole’s Looking For You, picked up the leading apprentice trophy at the Top End Racing Awards in September.
Injuries suffered in two falls sidelined Lines, but it proved no deterrent, and in July she won the $75,000 Darwin Guineas (1600m) on Cole’s gelding Tubthumper on Day 1 of the Darwin Cup Carnival.
On Darwin Cup Day, Lines partnered Equal Balance to success for SA trainer Kym Healy and ended the Carnival with seven wins.
With six Alice Springs wins and success on Katherine Cup Day in August, it has been an extraordinary ride for the affable teenager, but a suspension incurred at Bedourie denied her the opportunity to ride at Winton before the Cole party farewelled Queensland.
In general, Lines’ record of 44 wins and 58 minor placings from 208 starts typifies her consistency.
Lord Fenrir, with three minor placings in five Darwin starts, was never far away on Saturday after settling fourth along the rails before swinging wide at the 400m in his pursuit of the leaders.
A patient Lines eventually released the handbrake, with the son of Hellbent overpowering his rivals over the final 200m to seal victory by 2.5 lengths from Ella Clarke’s Gunshot Glitter (+115 Betfair fav) and Chris Pollard’s No Rain No Flowers (+1300), who shared the lead at the 350m at the top of the straight.
Turnstar, a +1200 quote during the week, received late support in a very open contest despite having not raced since July and duly delivered, with Lines producing a ride that mirrored her effort on Lord Fenrir.
Settling fourth on the fence, a gap appeared along the rails once negotiating the final corner, and Turnstar pounced to kick clear at the 200m before saluting by 1.6 lengths from Ella Clarke’s Pop Magic (+450) and Gary Clarke’s Henestrosa (+400).
For the son of Star Turn, it was his first win since March and only his third win in 22 starts for Cole.
It was a mixed day for two odds-on favourites, with Chris Nash’s Son Of Bileski (-153.85) prevailing over 1600m (0–70) and Gary Clarke’s Change Is Coming (-222.22) succumbing over 1000m (0-64).
Son Of Bileski (Mark Pegus), a seven-year-old gelding, was aiming for three straight wins this month and settled fourth before unwinding at the 500m.
In the home straight, the son of Dissident, backing up after wins over 1300m in BM54 and 0-64 class – swooped, and at the 200m it was all over with the former NZ, Victoria and SA galloper winning by 4.5 lengths from Gary Clarke’s Influential Jack (+320) and Peter Stennett’s New Enterprise (+400).
Change Is Coming had had four previous Darwin starts, and on the two occasions he won, he got to the front before winning by 10.5 and 8.1 lengths, but in the other two races, he finished fourth and third when challenged out in front.
On Saturday, the four-year-old gelding had to sit three wide of Tayarn Halter stablemates Pocket Pistol (+550), who held the fence, and Madame Romanov as the trio battled for early supremacy.
Pocket Pistol (Paul Shiers), who has raced in Queensland, NSW, and WA, didn’t buckle when Change Is Coming applied the heat at the 500m before finally sealing victory in Darwin at the ninth attempt by 0.69 lengths, with Cole’s Exceedingly Magic (+290) three lengths away in third place.
It was the second NT win for the son of Exceed And Excel, a seven-year-old gelding, since debuting for the Halter stable in January after having success in Katherine in August over 1100m (0-58).
Gary Clarke’s four-year-old gelding Doc O’Connor (Todd), a +160 bookmaker favourite, sealed his third straight win and made it five wins from seven Darwin starts with a narrow win over stablemate Mr Cashman ($3.20) over 1000m (BM76).
Doc O’Connor, nominated for the Three-Year-Old of the Year prize at the Top End Racing Awards, returned after winning the Simone Montgomerie Lightning (1000m) on Darwin Cup Day and set a cracking pace after grabbing the early lead.
Cole’s Star Magnum (+190) and Mr Cashman were in hot pursuit, but once entering the home straight, Doc O’Connor was three lengths clear at the 300m before the four-year-old gelding got the staggers.
Mr Cashman finished strongly along the fence to get within 0.13 lengths of Doc O’Connor, while third-placed Star Magnum was 2.5 lengths adrift, and it was no surprise that the son of Lonhro hit the wall before sneaking home after clocking 56.31.
The track record for the 1000m is 56.07, set by the Gary Clarke-trained I’m Too Hot in the 2019 Simone Montgomerie Lightning.