WA trainer looking for more Darwin Cup Carnival success

Robert Gulberti
Broome trainer Robert Gulberti taking a swim with two-time Darwin Cup winner Ihtsahymn at Mindil Beach during the 2019 Darwin Cup Carnival. Picture: Greg Irvine (Magic Millions)

If he had the opportunity, Broome trainer Robert Gulberti would take horses to the Darwin Cup Carnival every year.

Who could blame him after winning the 2019 and 2020 Darwin Cup – the biggest race in the Northern Territory – with the outstanding grey gelding Ihtsahymn.

And the memories are still vivid for Gulberti.

“That’s something that’s always in the back of your mind when you talk about Darwin or someone talks about Darwin, so that’s something I’ll never forget,” he said.

“I think I will be telling the grandkids that when I’m older and grey.”

The Western Australian trainer is back in the Top End and has two runners on Saturday – Day 5 of the 2022 Great Northern Darwin Cup Carnival.

Living The Dream, a six-year-old gelding, will start in the $50,000 TAB Metric Mile (1600m) and Isola Bay, a three-year-old gelding, will line up against his own age group in the $40,000 Samsung TROBIS 0-68 Handicap (1200m).

Gulberti certainly means business as Brad Rawiller, one of the best jockeys in Australia, is making the trip from Perth to partner both horses.

Living The Dream, who has already qualified for the $200,000 Great Northern Darwin Cup (2050m) at Fannie Bay on August 1, is following a similar path to that of Ihtsahymn.

Ihtsahymn only had four starts at Fannie Bay, he won the Metric Mile and Darwin Cup in 2019 before finishing second in the Metric Mile to the handy Savatoxl and winning the Darwin Cup the following year.

The owners of Ihtsahymn were keen to get hold of another Darwin Cup horse and that’s where Living The Dream came into the picture.

Gulberti purchased the horse online and the main owner is Reggie Webb, who was also linked with Ihtsahymn.

“I rang Reggie up and said I think this bloke (Living The Dream) fits the bill, I don’t think he’ll be too expensive and we’ll just give it a go,” Gulberti said.

“The main thing to start with is we thought he was the right rating to get up here into the race.

“He was pretty much guaranteed of that – there wasn’t too much pressure really on him needing to gain rating points to qualify.

“He was pretty successful down in Kalgoorlie during the Carnival last year.

“Traditionally, a lot of our horses that handle Broome pretty well handle Kalgoorlie – it’s quite firm.

“We just thought to take a chance on that as well, so I guess we find out in the Metric Mile on Saturday whether we’re sort of close to the mark or not.”

Living The Dream, who has a rating of 92, started his career in Victoria before winding up in WA in September 2020 and will represent the Gulberti stable for the first time after a last start eighth in the Northam Cup (1600m) last October for the Lindsey Smith yard.

The Metric Mile is the last major lead up race before the Darwin Cup with I Am The Fox making his long-awaited return, while Dominus, Kaonic, Starouz and Magnossiva are considered as big chances.

Isola Bay has had eight starts for a win in Geraldton and Narrogin before winning two in Broome, and before accompanying Living The Dream to Darwin he finished fourth over 1200m (0-70) on July 9.

“Isola Bay is a nice three-year-old – he’s a very relaxed little customer and thought he was an ideal travelling companion for the Cup horse,” Gulberti said.

“Last week we made the decision to do that – nominate him for the three-year-old sprint.

“On his day, he’s pretty good – but he’s still learning his craft.

“He’s shown that he has adapted to the style of racing up north pretty well.

“The prizemoney for the race on Saturday is as good as our Broome Sprint, which is for all the best sprinters that go to Broome for the Carnival, so we thought we’d take that opportunity and give him a go.”

There is no denying the fact that Isola Bay will have his hands full dealing with the likes of First Crusade, Super Famous and Flying Start, while Turnstar, Mt Buller and Starlite Rebel can give some cheek.

“It’s only a small field and there’s probably at least five horses that could bob up and win it and no one would be surprised,” Gulberti said.

“I’m just hoping that we’re in the wash up in that five.

“We’re not going in there bullish with an exuberant amount of confidence because I have been watching those horses form over the last month, five weeks, and there’s some impressive races they’ve run.

“The style of racing is very similar, but it’s really hard to get a line on the times because our times in Broome are much slower than the Darwin times.

“But he’s drawn well (barrier two) and I reckon that he’ll be there somewhere.”

Gulberti, who confirmed that there was an entourage from Broome heading to Darwin for the remainder of the Cup Carnival, is on the verge of relocating to Perth after spending 23 years in Broome.

The big move will take place after the Broome Cup Carnival, which is currently in full swing.

“We’ve just purchased a property down there and we’ve sold our house,” he said.

“We’re on the move, so it’s pretty exciting times.

“We’ve got a small group of young horses down there that we’ve purchased over the last couple of seasons at the Magic Millions Yearling Sales and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“We’ve been going down to Perth for the last 10 years preparing our horses over the summer for the Carnival.

“Been in Broome a long time now, I’ve also got a small renewable energy business there.

“We’re focusing on the horses more so now, I love it, pretty passionate about it.”

Gulberti admitted that it was a huge exercise to get to Darwin, but was happy to be back in town.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said.

“The effort to come here is big because we’ve still got eight or nine horses racing in Broome at the moment.

“Once you drive into town and you see the signs, and you see the people, and you get on course, and you feel that buzz, it’s worth the effort for sure.”

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