SPORT Clarke eyes miss­ing piece

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT -

GARY Clarke has had a stel­lar ca­reer as a horse trainer in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, but there is one thing miss­ing – an Alice Springs Cup.

The Top En­der hopes his luck will change with two strong run­ners in the $70,000 fea­ture over 2000m at Pioneer Park to­day.

Clarke’s Java and Fi­nal Hear­ing will be among the run­ners for the Cup, raced for the first time mi­nus spec­ta­tors due to COVID-19 re­stric­tions.

The most re­cent best plac­ing Clarke has had with a horse at the Alice Springs Cup was Big Man’s sec­ond in 2016.

“The Alice Springs Cup is the only fea­ture race I haven’t won in the Ter­ri­tory,” Clarke said. “I’ve been close be­fore, and run a lot of sec­onds and thirds. These two horses are prob­a­bly just as good a chance as any of the oth­ers I have had in it, if not bet­ter.

“My line of thought ev­ery year I come here is that I’ll win the Cup.”

Java won the $30,000 Red Cen­tre Tech­nol­ogy Part­ners Chief Min­is­ter’s Cup (1600m), with Fi­nal Hear­ing fin­ish­ing in third place last week.

“I like both their chances,” Clarke said. “They both had good runs in the lead-up race, the Chief Min­is­ter’s, with Java winning it and Fi­nal Hear­ing, he was do­ing his best work right at the end of the race.”

Clarke is con­fi­dent Java will be able to han­dle the ex­tra dis­tance this week­end.

“Java’s un­tried, he’s never been fur­ther than 1600m,” he said. “But in say­ing that, when we got him he’d never been fur­ther than 1300m. It wasn’t un­til we tried him at the 1600m, he’s won about four or five of them now.

“The way he ac­tu­ally found the line the other day I can’t see why he prob­a­bly wouldn’t get the 2000m.

“Prob­a­bly the best part I liked about it was the last 100m when he was ac­tu­ally start­ing to draw away from the sec­ond horse on the line.

“I think he’s fit enough to make the ex­tra dis­tance.”

Clarke also has The Cap­tain con­test­ing the Pioneer Sprint (1200m) to­day.

“He’s the right horse for the job, but he does have to carry a big weight,” Clarke said.

“Be­tween 1200m-1300m is his best dis­tance.”

Clarke said rac­ing to no crowds dur­ing the Alice Springs Cup Car­ni­val had taken a lit­tle get­ting used to.

“I wouldn’t say there is less pres­sure. It’s very dif­fer­ent and I sup­pose you could say there is no at­mos­phere there. It’s just like a day at tri­als,” he said.

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