Ella Clarke eyes NT Guineas success with Debating

Ella Clarke
Top End trainer Ella Clarke will be out to win her biggest race when she starts three-year-old gelding Debating in the NT Guineas at Alice Springs on Wednesday. (Picture: Caroline Camilleri/Darwin Photography Professionals)

Ella Clarke was speechless when Pop Magic won the $40,000 Lightning Wet Season Series Final (1200m) in Darwin last month, so anything is possible if Debating wins the $50,000 NT Guineas (1600m) in Alice Springs on Wednesday.

Clarke, daughter of leading NT trainer Gary, will start the gelding in the Red Centre’s biggest race for the three-year-olds.

Day 2 of the Alice Springs Cup Carnival looks set to finally go ahead after it was postponed on Saturday when relentless rain saturated Pioneer Park.

“I couldn’t talk when Pop Magic won, it was my biggest win,” Clarke said.

“I was gobsmacked, he has been such an amazing horse for me.

“I never expect too much from him, he just goes out there and does his best.

“I didn’t make it back to Darwin for his last run, I’ve been in Alice.”

Pop Magic, a five-year-old gelding by Wandjina, has had 15 starts under Clarke for six wins and four seconds.

The son of Reward For Effort had four starts and third minor placings for Flemington trainer Nick Ryan before arriving in Darwin, where he was a first-up seventh over 1100m against Class 2 opposition on December 30.

It was then, after two narrow defeats over 1200m, that Clarke considered the NT Guineas.

Stepping up to 1400m against his own age group at Pioneer Park on March 9, the gelding finished three lengths behind the Dan Morgan-trained Don’t Be Dramatic in second place.

“He’s knocking on the door at the moment,” Clarke said.

“He’s learnt a lot since I’ve had him and I’m learning a lot from him.

“There wasn’t a lot of three-year-olds around at the time and I thought I’d give him a crack in Alice.

“He was up and down with the hot weather in Darwin — the cooler weather in Alice has helped.

“He had a few excuses last start, he flipped out of the barriers and lost his near front shoe.

“He only got to Alice a few days prior to that race and it was a tough run, but I was happy.”

Clarke agreed that Don’t Be Dramatic was the horse to beat on Wednesday.

“He’s been very good for Dan,” she said.

“There’s a few new ones there, but I definitely think Don’t Be Dramatic will be up there.

“Debating has an awkward gate (eight), but he has a good jockey in Jarrod Todd.

“His last run indicated that he will get the mile, so hopefully he’s up there and good enough to win on the day.

“I don’t know what I’ll do if Debating wins, but it will definitely be exciting.

“He’ll just have this run, then back to Darwin — just get him through the Guineas at this stage.”

Clarke, who boasts 14 wins from 67 starts in her short career, has three horses in her stable but is on the outlook for new additions.

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