The 2019 Darwin Cup headlines what has been a huge Carnival in the Northern Territory and we are set for a fascinating race on Monday afternoon.
It is Lieder that is a dominant favourite in Darwin Cup betting, but he will face stiff competition from a resurgent Ihtsahymn and talented three-year-old Poet’s Landing.
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Ihtsahymn looked like a horse whose best days were well and truly behind him, but he has been nothing short of outstanding since he was sent to the Northern Territory. He carried 66.5 kilograms to win at Broome before he showed an outstanding turn-of-foot to finish over the top of his rivals in the Metric Mile. The Fannie Bay surface is clearly not a problem for him and the step-up in trip is ideal. He is the horse to beat.
Lieder has finished in the placings in the past two editions of the Darwin Cup and he is favourite to finally win the race in 2019. He won the Ladbrokes Alice Springs Cup by an incredible ten lengths in May before he produced a flat effort at Fannie Bay, but he returned to a semblance of his best form with a comfortable win in the Buntine Handicap. There is no doubt that he will be in the finish, but there is not a huge amount of value at his current price.
Ash Grey stamped himself as a potential Darwin Cup contender with an upset win in the Chief Minister’s Cup. The form coming out of that race has not been good and it really doesn’t look like the strongest Darwin Cup form line. It would surprise to see him make it back-to-back wins.
Xebec is capable of a high-rating performance, but it has been a while since he produced his best form. He failed to beat home a single runner in the WJ McKell Stakes and he was disappointing in the Chief Minister’s Cup. You couldn’t back him in the Darwin Cup off that effort.
Embley was only narrowly beaten by Ash Grey in the Chief Minister’s Cup, but he failed to fire after being found lame in the Metric Mile. He is a better horse than that effort suggests, but he probably still doesn’t have the upside to win the Darwin Cup.
Poet’s Landing is the x-factor in the Darwin Cup and a win would see connections secure the Ladbrokes $100,000 Triple Crown Bonus! He started his winning streak with a victory at Ipswich and he has since gone on to make it three wins from as many starts at Fannie Bay, including impressive victories in the Darwin Guineas and the NT Derby. Poet’s Landing would still need to improve to win the Darwin Cup, but he has more upside than the rest of this field and he goes into the race as a leading contender.
It has been a while between race wins for Dawn Raid and he was soundly beaten in the Metric Mile. He looks to have found his right price.
Lotion doesn’t win out of turn, but he is a consistent galloper and you can expect him to be thereabouts in this contest. He was no match for Lieder in the Buntine Handicap before he finished a close second behind Ihtsahymn in the Metric Mile. It is tough to see him winning, but he needs to be in the mix for exotics.
Royal Request hasn’t recorded a race win since he took out the 2017 Darwin Cup and that winning streak looks unlikely to end in this year’s Darwin Cup. He did find the line nicely in the Metric Mile, his best performance in some time, but he would still need to find a couple of lengths improvement in order to win the Darwin Cup.
Gracious Prospect is an NT racing veteran and this will be his first attempt at the Darwin Cup. The step-up to 2000 metres doesn’t really look ideal for him and he faded late in the Metric Mile.
Reiby The Red
Reiby The Red hasn’t really thrived since he was sent to Darwin. He was handily beaten by Ash Grey in the Chief Minister’s Cup and he was very poor in the Metric Mile. He is one of the outsiders for a reason.
This is a step-up in quality for That’s Justified after a couple of fair efforts in weaker races than this at Fannie Bay. He has never really shown anything to suggest that he is capable of winning a race of this quality.
Adatto produced his best effort in some time to finish second behind Lieder in the Buntine Handicap. He was still handily beaten by his stablemate and it is tough to see him turning-the-tables.
The Wild Side
It has been an inconsistent campaign for The Wild Side and he was outclassed against a number of his rivals in this field when he contested the Ladbrokes Alice Springs Cup and the Chief Minister’s Cup. He is one of the outsiders in this field for a reason.
American Muscle beat home only a single runner in a Benchmark 76 event at Fannie Bay last start and you simply can’t win a Darwin Cup off that effort.