It’s been an emotional $200,000 Darwin Cup win for Playoffs in the Top End.
Trainer Gary Clarke made it a feature race double after his sprinter Syncline won the Palmerston Sprint on Saturday.
Clarke, wife Sharlene and his family had their son, Guy, looking down on them after he tragically lost his life late last year.
Playoffs is part-owned by Colin McKenna who has owned some great horses, including Caulfield Cup winner Jameka, as well as his former trainer and now industry superstar Ciaron Maher.
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Ella Clarke and Dad Gary after winning the Darwin Cup. Picture: Glenn Campbell
Verry Elleegant’s part-owner John O’Neill is also in the horse.
Darwin identities, crocodile farmer and pub owner Mick Burns and property developer Brooke David are also in the ownership group, alongside Atomic 212 head honchos Barry O’Brien and his son Damien.
Jarrod Todd rides Playoffs over the finish line to win the Darwin Cup 2022. Picture: (A)manda Parkinson
Playoffs ($5.50), who settled on the speed throughout, was too good for roughies Kaonic ($41) and Vallabar ($41).
Noir De Rue ($26) ran fourth.
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Playoffs were dominant.
Hot favorite Living The Dream ($2.25) had a sweet run in transit but dropped right out in the straight.
Playoffs, who has now won his only two starts in Darwin earning in excess of $180,000 prizemoney, was ridden by Jarrod Todd.
For Clarke it was his fourth Darwin Cup, having won one as a jockey and three as a trainer.
“It was a big win. A race like that isn’t something you do with just one or two months of planning, it takes six months,” Clarke said.
“What you need to do in a race like this is staying out of trouble.
“I knew he had the ability to win it, the only unknown factor was if he had the speed coming out the gates.
“It’s been a very hard year, but we’ve had good people around us and good staff that sort of helped us through. We’ve had good help all the way through.”
Todd called the win a very special occasion for himself and the Clarke family, who he credited for the amount of work they put in.
“It’s pretty special, it’s pretty special for Gary and the family who lost their son… I couldn’t be happier with the result,” Todd said.
“I put in a fair work to get here but nothing like Gary and Sharlene who deal with everything they can and I’m just lucky enough to pilot the horses.
“Playoffs held a strong gallop. He could have gone another 200m and still won it so a really good run from the horse.”
The Clarke clan before the race. Picture: Glenn Campbell
A crowd of 16,000 was on track at Fannie Bay for the biggest race day in the Northern Territory.
The Clarke family was also hit hard when their No.1 stable rider and great friend Simone Montgomerie was killed in a race fall on Darwin Cup day in 2013.
Trainer Gary Clarke after the race. Picture: (A)manda Parkinson
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— additional reporting by Nathaniel Chambers