Full steam ahead for resur­gent Ticket To Toorak

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - JOSH SPASARO

DAR­WIN jock­eys’ premier­ship leader Bren­don Davis heard the talk about Ticket To Toorak ear­lier this year and didn’t be­lieve it.

“A cou­ple of blokes who owned him thought he’d be a good Pioneer Sprint horse, and at the start we didn’t know what they were on about,” he said.

Things can change quickly in horse rac­ing.

At Fan­nie Bay yes­ter­day, Davis made it three wins from three at­tempts on the sixyear-old geld­ing, con­vinc­ingly win­ning race two by six lengths.

Three con­sec­u­tive wins for cham­pion Dar­win trainer Gary Clarke has seen the sprinter come a long way since be­ing sent to Alice Springs af­ter he had “the puffs”, where he strug­gled with the Top End heat from March to mid-July.

Now it’s a joy for Davis to ride him.

“I’ve got a high opin­ion on this horse. I rate him as a city horse,” he said. “The own­ers only bought the horse for Dar­win, so hope­fully he can keep win­ning races here, and when the car­ni­vals come along we can put him in some de­cent races.”

Davis said the key to him and Clarke’s suc­cess (Clarke is sec­ond in the NT train­ers’ premier­ship af­ter win­ning it last sea­son) was plain hard work.

“It’s early-morn­ing starts – up at four in the morn­ing and we’re at the track at quar­ter to five,” he said. “We’ve ex­panded our team. In the wet sea­son we like to cut back to 10 or 12 horses but this year I told Shar­lene (Clarke’s wife and co-trainer) I want to have a de­cent crack.

“So we’ve got 20 horses in work, and I ride 10 or 11 of them – putting in the hard yards and it’s nice to get some re­wards.”

Af­ter dif­fi­cult be­gin­nings in Dar­win, Clarke said he was con­fi­dent Ticket To Toorak would have a bright fu­ture be­cause he likes the sur­face at Fan­nie Bay.

But he still mon­i­tors the horse closely.

“We make sure he’s al­ways got two fans on him in his sta­ble and he gets hosed with cold wa­ter a cou­ple of times a day just to keep his core tem­per­a­ture down,” he said.

Em­press O’Reilly saluted by al­most 3½ lengths in race three, when four of the five jock­eys were fe­male, with Vanessa Arnott in the sad­dle on the five-year-old mare.

“The horse held her spot on the fence and that’s when she runs her best – when she’s not get­ting too much dirt in her face,” the win­ning horse’s part-trainer Garry Le­foe said.

Kerry Pet­rick had two win­ners, Poet’s Choice in race one and Tipsy On Red in race four.

Arnott rode Ja­son Manning’s On Your Way to an im­pres­sive win in race five.

Vanessa Arnott re­turns to scale aboard the Lisa Le­foe-trained fiveyear-old mare Em­press O’Reilly af­ter win­ning the Able Fi­nance Hand­i­cap (1200m) at Fan­nie Bay yes­ter­day Pic­ture: HE­LEN ORR

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