Todd holds narrow lead over Wiseman in Top End jockeys race

Sonja Wiseman and Jarrod Todd
Darwin-based jockeys Sonja Wiseman and Jarrod Todd, pictured during a race meeting at Pioneer Park in Alice Springs, have dominated the Top End and Country premiership this season. Picture: Nikki Westover Photography

Leading Darwin jockeys Jarrod Todd and Sonja Wiseman will continue their battle in quest of the Top End and Country premiership at Fannie Bay on Saturday.

With eight meetings remaining before the 2022/23 season ends, Todd leads the way with 30 winners with Wiseman (29) snapping at his heels.

Todd, who has won the premiership for the past three years, hit the front last Saturday after saluting aboard Hard To Excel for trainer Gary Clarke.

Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory chief executive officer Andrew O’Toole is looking forward to what lies ahead in regards to the Todd-Wiseman arm-wrestle.

“They’ve been neck and neck all season,” he said.

“It’s going to be a good old battle to the finish.

“On the face of it, you would say that Toddy has the better fire power being attached to the Clarke stable.

“But knowing Sonja, she won’t go down without a fight.

“She’s a hard worker, but Toddy has snuck to the front and he’s going to take some pegging back.

“Just looking at the rides for this weekend, on paper you’d say he may have the better book, but you don’t run them on paper.

“Both have six rides and will meet in each race, and it’s hard to sort of make a major case for one over the other.

“It should be a good contest between Jarrod and Sonja on the day.”

It was a sensational start to the season for Todd after picking up four wins on Darwin Cup Day on August 1, which included victory aboard Clarke’s Playoffs in the Cup.

At the blink of an eye, Todd (8) had skipped away by the end of September from Wiseman, Wayne Davis and Paul Shiers, who had all registered four wins.

Todd, 35, and Wiseman, 31, have waged a two-horse battle since October.

Wiseman kept nibbling away at the deficit and hit the front 13-12 after a winning treble on Melbourne Cup Day.

The lead changed on numerous occasions with both jockeys also sidelined for various reasons – for example Todd missing a meeting through suspension and Wiseman recovering from wrist surgery.

By the end of 2022, Todd and Wiseman, who are also good friends, were locked at 15-15.

Wiseman hit a purple patch in the New Year and in April led 27-20, but Todd gradually reduced the lead and it was 29-29 after he rode a winning treble on June 3.

Here’s how O’Toole has assessed the chances of Todd and Wiseman on Saturday.

Race 1

“Wolfburn (Todd), he’s a quality galloper and won the Darwin Guineas last year.

“First up back in Darwin after three runs in SA, including a win at Murray Bridge.

“The 1300m might be on the short side, but that said he’s a quality galloper.

“I’ve certainly got him in the mix as I have Blueberry Boy (Wiseman), he put together a couple of wins at the end of his last prep last year.

“He’s had two runs back this time for two thirds behind a couple of smart horses and carries 1.5kg less than Wolfburn, so not a lot between them.”

Race 2

“Great Diviner (Todd) was a last start winner, Mark Pegus rode it on that occasion.

“Bat Pad (Wiseman) raced last week and was third behind Ideas Man.

“Both horses are racing well, but I suppose if you looked at it logically you’d say that Great Diviner might be the better chance of the two.

“That said Bat Pad is a very handy mare on her day, so once again an even go.

“Hard to separate them, but I’d go Great Diviner.”

Race 3

“Captain George (Todd) probably has the edge over Quick Return (Wiseman).

“I’ve tipped Captain George to win – I thought he was good first up here when he won.

“Quick Return was a second in his NT debut behind Tubthumper last time out and should improve.”

Race 4

“Not much between Starspangledancer (Todd) and Slinky’s Star (Wiseman).

“Starspangledancer would want to improve from it’s first up run here when she over-raced and I think she can with a better gate.

“And Slinky’s Star, similarly, it raced behind Tubthumper the other day and finished third.

“Probably a toss of the coin, but maybe Starspangledancer just ahead of Slinky’s Star.”

Race 5

“Barragunda (Wiseman) is a big chance from Tom Logan’s stablemate Virtuous Miss (Todd), who is returning from a spell.

“I think Barragunda’s latest two runs have shown him in a good light, so Sonja has the edge over Toddy on this occasion.”

Race 7

“Bel Suono (Todd) maybe has the edge over Malibu Edition (Wiseman).

“I’ve tipped them one-two in that order.

“Bel Suono backing up from last week – 1300m up to the mile and that’s always a question mark as some horses handle it and some don’t.

“Malibu Edition is a chance, but he hasn’t raced since May 27.”

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