Photos by Caroline Camilleri
GARY CLARKE, the Territory’s leading trainer and a member of the Darwin Racing Hall of Fame, secured an unprecedented clean sweep of the equine titles at last night’s 2022 Top End Racing Awards held at the Darwin Turf Club.
Clarke-trained Syncline, the bet365 Palmerston Sprint winner during the recent Great Northern Darwin Cup Carnival, carried off the Top End Horse of the Year title, and was also crowned Sprinter of the Year due to his exploits during the 2021/22 season.
Syncline had a wonderful year, his 11 starts resulting in four wins, five seconds, a third and a fourth placing. His win in the Palmerston was the first leg of a memorable Sprint/Cup double for his trainer, who completed the rare feat when Playoffs saluted in the Darwin Cup.
Syncline was also a nomination for the Out of Carnival Award, but had to play second fiddle to his stablemate Count Of Essex¸ the St Patrick’s Cup (Darwin) and Alice Springs Cup winner, who also bagged the Middle-Distance/Stayer Award.
The Ladbrokes 3yo of the Year title went to Clarke’s Wolfburn, the Darwin Guineas winner, who beat off three rivals for the crown.
Wolfburn had five starts during the season for two wins and two seconds, one of his runner-up efforts coming behind Venting in the NT Derby.
Although delighted and humbled by his success with his stable stars, Clarke wasn’t finished there – he bagged a record 10th successive Champion Trainer title with 55 wins from 288 starters, and was also the Silks Darwin Great Northern Cup Carnival Leading Trainer for the ninth time.
Clarke sent out some 17 winners during the eight days of Top End Carnival action to fall one short of his record of 18 set last year.
Stable jockey Jarrod Todd (44 wins) was crowned Champion Jockey for the third successive year, while he emulated Clarke by also being crowned the Silks Darwin Great Northern Darwin Cup Carnival Leading Jockey, amassing 15 wins from 52 rides during the Carnival. It was his sixth Carnival leading rider title.
Jade Hampson, who has only been riding since April, was the Top End’s Champion Apprentice Jockey of the Year. She rode six winners in the Top End to go with the same number in Alice Springs during the season.
Holly Meeks (Clarke Racing) and Jamie Viney (Irwin and Logan Racing) shared the Garrards Horse and Hound Strapper of the Year Award, while the Character of Racing Award went the way of ever-popular jockey Adam “Chippy” Nicholls.
The TRNT Off The Track Aftercare Award, on offer for just the second time, was won by Karen Ruzsicka for her exploits with and care of her off the track thoroughbreds.
The Women in Thoroughbred Racing NT Top End Awards went the way of trainer Tayarn Halter (21.5 wins) and jockey Sonja Wiseman (30 wins).