Clarke lands Darwin treble, but daughter denies him four wins

Darwin trainer Gary Clarke, the 10-time winner of the Top End and Country premiership, had a day out on Friday when he and jockey Jarrod Todd combined for a winning treble at Fannie Bay.

Trainer Gary Clarke had already won three races during Friday’s five-event program at Darwin and looked set to end the day with four straight wins before his daughter Ella intervened.

Ella Clarke, a rising 26-year-old trainer, trumped her dad – the 10-time champion Top End and Country premiership trainer – when Eurellydidit (Casey Hunter) stormed home over the final 200m to prevail in open company over 1600m.

Starting at $6.50, the former Victorian and NSW galloper was having just it’s fourth start in the NT and was backing up after a narrow last start win over 1600m (0-64) a fortnight ago.

In a blanket finish with 0.8 lengths separating the first four across the line, Eurellydidit caught the $1.90 favourite Siakam (Jarrod Todd) right on the line to win by a head.

It was a super effort by Magic Albert’s five-year-old gelding after finishing sixth in his first two runs in the tropics in March over 1200m (BM54) and 1300m (0-58), and it was only his fifth win from in 29 starts.

To step up in grade and to overcome Siakam was commendable as Gary’s five-year-old gelding was a dominant wire to wire winner of the $40,000 St Patrick’s Day Cup (1600m) at 0-70 level on March 18.

Siakam started well and led before settling second on the fence thus allowing Jo Banks’ last start winner Sweet Cheval (Sonja Wiseman), who jumped at $2.80, to lead at the 1200m turning into the back straight.

Sweet Cheval and Siakam went along their merry way, but Peter Stennett’s New Enterprise (Paul Shiers) looked ominous in third place and Eurelllydidit, who had Gary Clarke’s stablemates Skellig Island (Tessa Townsend) and Captain Hedderwick (Jade Hampson) for company, wasn’t that far away having camped itself on the rails.

Siakam applied the pressure on a battling Sweet Cheval at the turn as New Enterprise ($20) warmed up, but with 300m to go it was Eurellydidit and Skellig Island ($15) from the rear who were starting to work through the gears in the home straight.

It looked like Siakam would edge out New Enterprise before Eurellydidit, who drew barrier one and got off the fence prior to the home corner, and Skellig Island produced withering bursts.

Eurellydidit (56kg), headed by Skellig Island at the 200m, eventually steadied and sprinted home for victory from Siakam (62.5kg), New Enterprise (57.5kg) and Skellig Island (53kg) to make it six wins for Ella.

14/4/23 Darwin Race 5 Replay – Eurellydidit

Gary Clarke’s grand old campaigner Patria (Todd) made it 10 wins from 55 starts with a commanding victory against decent opposition over 1300m (BM54).

The $3.30 betting sites favourite jumped from the inside gate and settled third on the rails as Phil Cole’s $4.20 hope Ye Hella (Emma Lines) and Chris Pollard’s $10 chance Dream Weaver (Vanessa Arnott) led after the start.

Patria, an eight-year-old gelding, then worked his way to the lead and sat inside Ye Hella as the field packed leaving the back straight with Cisalpine (Hunter), a last start winner for Ella Clarke, working its way into third place.

Straightening for the run home, the son of Exceed And Excel kicked clear and once passing the 200m the issue was never in doubt as Tayarn Halter’s stablemates I’m A Dreamer (Paul Shiers) charged home down the outside and Raffalli (Jade Hampson) finished strongly along the rails.

For Patria, who also boasts 20 minor placings, it was his first win since saluting over 1200m (0-66) on Palmerston Sprint Day in July 2021, but he was always a chance on Friday after finishing a narrow second behind the in-form Archie James over 1200m (BM54) a fortnight ago.

I’m A Dreamer ($6.50) was 1.5 lengths adrift of the winner finishing second for the third straight time and Raffalli ($5.50), fourth behind Archie James, Patria and Dream Weaver on March 31, was third, while Ye Hella (fourth) faded over the concluding stages.

14/4/23 Darwin Race 2 Replay – Patria

The Clarke-Todd combination made it back to back wins when $2.80 favourite Global Wonder finished strongly over the final 200m to catch the David Bates-trained Fraction Late (Townsend) to seal victory by a neck over 1100m (0-58).

Ending a winning drought that stretched back to July 16 last year, Global Wonder settled in fifth place as stablemate Hard To Excel (Hunter) and Cole’s Sodbuster (Lines), starting at $15 and $31 respectively, set the early pace.

Down the side, the two outsiders held firm as third-placed Fraction Late ($4.40), who hadn’t raced since September, started to wind up with Halter’s Pocket Pistol (Hampson) and Global Wonder not far away.

At the top of the straight, Sodbuster led as Hard To Excel got a stitch and although Global Wonder, a last start fifth over 1300m (0-58) two weeks ago, found clear air Fraction Late kicked away and looked the likely winner at the 200m.

Not to be as Global Wonder, a five-year-old gelding by Hinchinbrook, accelerated in the concluding stages to win by a neck from the gallant Fraction Late to make it six career wins from 32 starts and five wins from 13 starts over 1100m.

Cole’s Turnstar (Arnott), starting at $6.50, was a last start winner over 1110m (0-58) on March 18 and was last in the eight-horse field with 500m to go before rattling home along the rails to finish five lengths adrift of the first two in third place.

14/4/23 Darwin Race 3 Replay – Global Wonder

She may have missed the start from gate one in the four-horse field, but Bel’s Banner ($3.70) delivered when it mattered to get the cash over 1000m (0-70) to make it three straight wins for Clarke and Todd.

The seven-year-old mare, who arrived from Victoria debuted in the Top End in late 2021, was making her second start after an eight-month spell and was certainly capable of upsetting $1.80 favourite Fromthenevernever after a narrow second behind El Magnificence over 1100m (0-70) on March 24.

Happy to sit behind Cole’s stablemates Brazenpine (Lines), a $3.80 runner, and Adoradancer (Hampson), the $14 outsider, as well as Fromthenevernever (Wiseman) from the Logan yard, Bel’s Banner hit the go button at the 400m approaching the home bend.

Fromthenevernever did settle outside the Cole pair before edging clear of Brazenpine once turning for home, but after making her move inside the tiring Adoradancer there was no stopping Bel’s Banner who joined the two out in front with 200m to go before powering away to win by 2.4 lengths.

In the end Bel’s Banner was far too good, but travelling three wide perhaps ended the hopes for the second-placed Fromthenevernever, who had won two of his past three starts, and although competitive Brazenpine, who had won three of her past five starts, had to settle for a close third.

Bel’s Banner, the daughter of Starspangledbanner, who actually started her racing life in Queensland, won her first three starts when she arrived in Darwin and Friday’s win – her fourth in the Top End in nine starts – was her first since New Year’s Day in 2022.

She now has six wins and 13 minor placings from 32 starts and her last appearance in 2022 was the Rose Bowl (1300m) for the fillies and mares at 0-70 level during the Darwin Cup Carnival when fifth behind Valentina Star.

14/4/23 Darwin Race 4 Replay – Bel’s Banner

Lines, an apprentice, made a triumphant return from injury when she guided the Cole-trained Dreyfus ($5) to victory in a 1300m maiden at just his third start.

The 16-year-old injured her ankle and suffered bruising to her liver when she fell from Nokondi mid-race in atrocious conditions on March 18 and missed the next two meetings at Fannie Bay.

It was clear the teenager, who kick-started her career in December, was excited with the win as she stood up in her irons to celebrate as the four-year-old gelding past the winning post.

Lines, making her second comeback from injury, settled the son of Nicconi in third place as Pollard’s Ruby Ruby Ruby (Townsend) and Logan’s $1.55 favourite Battle Class (Wiseman) kicked well clear of the field.

Ruby Ruby Ruby ($11) held sway turning for home and with 350m to go it was clear Battle Class couldn’t find that extra gear as Dreyfus and Stennett’s fourth-placed Bluffed (Todd) set after the leading pair.

Looking for a passage along the rails with 200m to go, Lines had to leave the fence to overtake Ruby Ruby Ruby in her quest to make it six career wins and with momentum Dreyfus swooped to seal victory by 0.8 lengths from the fast-finishing Bluffed ($5.50) with Ruby Ruby Ruby not all that far away after pipping Battle Class for third place.

Dreyfus, benefitting from Lines’ 3kg claim, was a first up second for Cole in an 1100m maiden before a last start fifth in a 1000m maiden on March 15 and the fact Ruby Ruby Ruby, who looked home at the 100m, and Battle Class went so hard early certainly enhanced his prospects.

14/4/24 Darwin Race 1 Replay – Dreyfus

Gary Clarke (31) extended his lead over Cole (20) in the 2022/23 trainer’s premiership, while Todd (23), who has won the Top End and Country jockey’s title for the past three years, made ground on the leader Wiseman (27).

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