Dyer’s hope of sealing first Alice Springs Cup escalates

Neil Dyer, Aaron Sweeney after Darwin win
Victorian trainer Neil Dyer and Darwin-based jockey Aaron Sweeney celebrating a win last year in the Top End at Fannie Bay. Former Canberra jockey Sweeney rode Dyer’s five-year-old gelding Hettinger to victory in the Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m) at Alice Springs’ Pioneer Park on Saturday.

Victorian trainer Neil Dyer will have a genuine contender as he strives to land the $110,000 Alice Springs Cup (2000m) for the first time on March 7.

Hettinger, a five-year-old gelding by I Am Invincible, completed preparations for the Red Centre’s biggest race by winning the $40,000 Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m) at weight-for-age at Pioneer Park on Saturday.

That made it two wins from as many starts back in Central Australia after toppling BM76 opposition in the St Patrick’s Day Cup (1600m) on March 17.

Kyneton-based Dyer, a regular visitor to the NT since 2008, has won three Darwin Cups, but the closest he has come to winning the Alice Springs Cup was in 2012, when Palmyra Boy finished third.

After celebrating success in Alice Springs, Darwin and Katherine first up last year, Hettinger was always returning to the NT.

The gelding had six starts in the Top End – prior and during the Darwin Cup Carnival – for two wins and two seconds before claiming the Katherine Cup (1700m) by 7.5 lengths.

Hettinger returned to action in February, finishing unplaced at Moonee Valley (twice) and Hamilton.

Sharing the lead with Terry Gillett’s nine-year-old gelding That’s Justified (Stan Tsaikos), Hettinger’s rider Aaron Sweeney pulled the trigger turning for home.

That’s Justified ($4.40) wouldn’t go away before Hettinger ($4.80) hit the front at the 100m to seal victory in the Alice Springs Cup Carnival’s Day 3 feature by half a length, with Kym Healy’s $4.60 hope Taipan Tommy (Emma Lines) third.

Gary Clarke’s $2.50 favourite Write Your Name (Jade Hampson), last year’s Alice Springs and Darwin Cup winner for previous trainer Dick Leech, didn’t give a yelp, finishing in fifth place.

Meanwhile, Healy’s Noble Magnate (Lines) won it’s second race in four days with an outstanding performance in the 1200m weight-for-age, an important lead-up race before the $100,000 Pioneer Sprint (1200m) on March 6.

Victory sealed a spot for the four-year-old gelding in Alice Springs’ second biggest race, but whether Strathalbyn-based Healy heads that way is a matter of conjecture despite the son of Magnus leaving some handy speedsters in his wake.

After rolling 0-64 opposition (1100m) on Wednesday on his NT debut, Noble Magnate ($4) backed up on Saturday and settled fourth before Lines flicked the switch at the 400m approaching the home turn.

Gillett’s $21 contender Brat (Tsaikos), who was among the early front-runners, led into the straight before Noble Magnate swooped along the fence at the 200m to seal victory by 2.8 lengths.

Brat’s stablemate Great Buy (Sonja Logan), who shared the early lead, held on for third, while Clarke’s $2.60 favourite Kerioth (Jarrod Todd) was tailed off in fifth place in the seven-horse field.

Noble Magnate was a 59-rater when he arrived in Alice, but he had two wins at Morphettville for previous trainers Richard and Chantelle Jolly.

Horse racing news

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments