Sant full of praise for star NT jockeys Todd and Wiseman

Star NT jockeys Sonja Wiseman and Jarrod Todd
Darwin hoops Sonja Wiseman and Jarrod Todd just can’t stop winning races at Fannie Bay and look set to battle it out for the 2022/23 Top End jockeys’ premiership.

Darwin race-caller Craig Sant has seen plenty of good jockeys ply their trade at Fannie Bay since taking over from the retiring Mick Stumbles as the voice of Fannie Bay in 2012.

There’s been the likes of Brendon Davis, Paul Shiers, Wayne Davis, Adam Nicholls, Carl Spry, Paul Denton, Scott Hillebrand, Kim Gladwin, Jan Cameron, Simone Montgomerie, Raymond Vigar, Richie Oakford, Barry Huppatz, Stan Tsaikos, Felicia Bergstrand and Vanessa Arnott.

In recent times, though, Jarrod Todd and Sonja Wiseman have made a serious impact and grab the headlines often.

They both rode winning doubles in Darwin on Australia Day and Alice Springs last Saturday.

Todd, 35, and Wiseman, 31, are proving unstoppable as they battle it out for the 2022/23 Top End jockeys’ premiership.

Todd is clearly Darwin’s leading jockey having won the premiership the past three years, and had a spectacular 2022 Darwin Cup Carnival which included winning four of the seven feature races for trainer Gary Clarke.

READ: Clarke ends superb Darwin Cup Carnival with ultimate prize

Wiseman, third in the jockeys’ premiership behind Todd (44) and Shiers (30.5) with 29 winners last season, is starring this campaign and leads the way with 18 wins from Todd (17).

Tsaikos (8), the champion rider in Central Australia for the past two seasons, is next best followed by Shiers and Arnott with seven.

Additionally, Wiseman is flying in the Red Centre this season with 18 wins in the Alice Springs jockeys’ premiership from Tsaikos, Phillip Crich and Jessie Philpot with nine wins each.

Wiseman rode 20 winners in the Red Centre last season to finish fourth in the premiership.

After a long absence, Todd has featured at the past four meetings in the Alice during December and January for seven wins.

In recent times, it’s not uncommon for Todd and Wiseman to ride a double, treble or four winners in the NT – Todd once posted five wins in the Alice in 2021.

“Sonja and Jarrod, they’re dominating, they’re having good years so far and it looks like it will play out for the rest of the year,” Sant said.

“It’s been a while since two Darwin jockeys have had a long rivalry – that would be David Bates and Paul Denton.

“Jarrod’s always got the Clarke stable behind him and that takes you a long way in Darwin with Clarkie being the dominant trainer.

“Sonja, well she’s more freelance, but rides for Tommy Logan, her partner, and Tommy’s having a good run at the moment and she’s picking up those freelance rides from other good trainers like Mark Nyhan, Phil Cole and Tayarn Halter.”

READ: Logan finishes 2022 with a bang as Wiseman nears return

It’s hard to fault the consistency of Todd and Wiseman, but they have also had their injury concerns.

In 2021, Todd snapped his ACL in his left knee after falling from a horse during a trial in February before breaking his hand in a three-horse fall in June.

Todd did not have knee surgery and with physiotherapy he amazingly kept riding, and with further treatment the knee is basically back to normal.

Wiseman was sidelined for three months as she recovered from a head injury following a three-horse fall in July 2021, before having wrist surgery late last year as a direct result of that fall.

“At one point Jarrod was talking about getting something done to his knee after the 2021 (Darwin Cup) Carnival, but he is just managing it,” Sant said.

“I haven’t spoken to him about it for a while and he hasn’t mentioned anything about it, so I think he’s pretty good to go.

“Sonja had a bit of bad luck – that (Darwin Cup) Carnival fall a couple of years back – and now she’s back up and about.

“Talking to her, it took Sonja a while to get over that fall, she was just having issues with the memory because she did suffer a severe head knock.

“Sonja’s back in form, she’s right there – she had a wrist operation not long ago and although not at peak fitness she’s getting better.”

In general, Sant puts the success of Todd and Wiseman down to experience.

“They’re both good jockeys – they could make it anywhere really if given the right opportunities,” he said.

“Jarrod sums it up pretty well how the race is going to be run and is probably a bit more aggressive than Sonja.

“Sonja is happy to sit off the speed a lot of the time and is more effective coming from the back – she’ll ride more of a race and times her run well.

“In Darwin where they get out and go and go hard, Toddy is always good in that area.

“If he can get to the front like the other day when he won on Mr Cashman where he was able to dictate he can be effective.

“Sonja, well she can ride either way, and when you also get those tight finishes she’ll out point other jockeys just through her balance.”

Todd has a full book of rides at Fannie Bay this Saturday, while Wiseman has three on the five-event program.

The pair also get on well off the track, with Wiseman once saying that Todd gave her advice when she was booked on a horse that he had previously ridden.

“They socialise a bit and on a Wednesday afternoon they’ll go and have a hit of golf with a few of the other jockeys – they all get on pretty well and there’s always a bit of banter going on,” Sant said.

“It’s a good thing when everyone is getting on and they’re helping each other out.

“We’ve got a few apprentices here at the moment and they need a bit of help, and a couple of experienced heads giving them a little bit of advice doesn’t go astray.

“Jarrod and Sonja are two jockeys that you’d want to listen to.”

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