Early Crow set for Alice Springs return ahead of Pioneer Sprint

Early Crow wins Palmerston Sprint
Strapper Lorraine Edwards, winning jockey Aaron Sweeney and trainer Dick Leech after Early Crow won the $135,000 Palmerston Sprint (1200m) at Fannie Bay during the 2023 Darwin Cup Carnival. (Picture: Caroline Camilleri/Darwin Photography Professionals)

Early Crow returns on Saturday at Pioneer Park as he eyes the Pioneer Sprint (1200m) on April 6 during the Alice Springs Cup Carnival.

After spending six months in the paddock following his Palmerston Sprint win last August, the five-year-old gelding will find it tough against a high-quality field over 1100m at Benchmark 76 level.

Throw At Da Stumps and Mighty Murt are in good form, Kickatorp and Kerioth did little wrong first-up recently, and although Supreme Times and Perkova are returning from a spell, it was hard to fault their form leading up to Christmas.

Early Crow was allotted 61kg for Saturday’s race, but the booking of apprentice hoop Lek Maloney brings the weight down to 58kg.

Still, the Dick Leech-trained gelding will have to jump from the outside gate in the seven-horse field.

Most of Early Crow’s rivals on Saturday have the Pioneer Sprint in their sights as well, so it should prove a highly competitive affair.

“It’s a small field, but it’s full of quality and it’s not very often you can say that every horse has a genuine chance,” TRNT chief executive officer Andrew O’Toole said.

“Most of them should back up in the Pioneer Sprint, so you can’t see many of them taking a backward step on Saturday.

“Early Crow has good Alice Springs form having won three races from five starts, but it will be a big effort if he wins after such a long break.

“However, he does have a respectable first-up record and you just know that Dick will have him heading in the right direction, although no doubt he will derive plenty improvement from the run.

“Throw At Da Stumps from the Kerry Petrick yard has been terrific since arriving in the Alice having posted two wins from three Alice starts – he finished second behind the impressive Great Buy in his only other start.”

Early Crow was the early +200 favourite from Throw At Da Stumps (+300), with the other five runners were at a single-figure price with the top online bookmakers.

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