Full steam ahead for resurgent Ticket To Toorak
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