Top line racing heads north this Monday night when Winnellie Park hosts three heats of the Group Three 2014 Darwin Cup.
The race is run over the 537 metre trip, with the $25,000 to-the-winner final to be conducted on Friday August 1st. This year’s heats have attracted plenty of interstate raiders who are set to do battle with some of the Northern Territory’s most talented sprinters.
Darren McDonald makes the trip up from Victoria with Where’s The Surf and Rumbling Rick. McDonald is aiming to make it back-to-back Darwin Cup wins after he took out the 2013 final with Take It All.
Here is a look at the main chances in each of the three heats;
Race 4 – Darwin Cup Heat One – 8:41pm
Darren McDonald will rug up the smart Victorian performer Where’s The Surf (4) in the first heat. The son of Where’s Pedro and Nova Surf (Surf Lorian – Nova Keroma) has won 15 of his 42 starts and amassed over $50,000 in prizemoney. He would have to be considered as one of the series favourites.
Highbury (7) is another Victorian raider who has won eight from 28 for Robert Britton. He has won two of his last four over shorter trips and may find himself prominent early.
Queensland mentor Tom Tsouvelis brings his sprinter Tee Brady (8) back over for the cup again this year. He is no stranger to interstate travel and has contested group races in New South Wales and Victoria in the past. He was also a finalist in this very race in 2013 which is an experience that should sit him in good stead again this year.
Swansea Jacky (2) is prepared by local trainer Graeme Ferns and has an impeccable record. She has won no less than 23 of her 48 outings, with all but one of those being at this track. Her local knowledge could be an advantage in this.
Race 5 – Darwin Cup Heat Two – 9:03pm
When Rachel Scott and Mike Chapman took out the 2014 Ipswich Auction final with Are Ate (4) back in April, they told ARG that his long term goal was the Darwin Cup. Almost four months later, it has come to fruition and he lines up in the second heat.
Are Ate, who also won the Group Two Devonport Cup, has been racing predominantly over 600 metres at Albion Park of late, where he has won three of his last five. He looks a major player here.
Rumbling Rick will exit box two for Darren McDonald. The red fawn dog, who is owned by former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, has carved out some fast times since moving from Tasmania to Victoria and is in this race up to his ears.
Engine Alley (8) is the query runner after being off the scene since 2013. The 537 metre trip will hold no fears if he is primed for the first up run and the Robert Britton trained chaser will be hoping to improve his career record of 12 wins from 25 starts.
Race 6 – Darwin Cup Heat Three – 9:25pm
Robert Britton looks to hold a strong hand in the third-and-final heat when 2013 Silver Bullet winner Farmor Las Vegas dons the pink rug to jump from box eight. He is a winner of over $150,000 in prizemoney and looks to be back in winning form on recent efforts. He is a massive hope here.
Youngster La Sirenuse (2) looms as a big threat for Tom Tsouvelis. She has won seven of her 17 career starts including some very rapid Ipswich efforts. She is drawn to be right in this.
Rumble Street (7) will be looking to bounce back to form for her Queensland trainer Jeff Cumming. She has not won since late June but has the ability to be in a race like this on her day.