By Steve Taylor

Tuesday, 1 August

The inaugural TAB Territory Puntathon was held at the Darwin Turf Club in conjunction with TAB Metric Mile Day on Saturday 29 July. Twenty-one teams faced the starter, all looking to be crowned the Territory’s best punter and take home their share of $10,000 in prizemoney.

Each team started with a betting balance of $1,500 with the winner determined by the team that turned that into the highest amount after the conclusion of the seven local races. A compulsory $150 Quaddie was to be placed prior to race one to ensure the integrity of the leaderboard was maintained.

After race 1, the Better. Worse. Not Sure. Syndicate jumped to an early lead with a $75 e-w bet on winner Arch of Titus resulting in a $553 collect.They backed up the race 1 win with another $590 collect on the John Peacock-trained Super Famous in race 2 from a $100 win bet and $50 place. The biggest collect for race 2 belonged to team Let it Ride with a 1666% quinella and 416% trifecta resulting in a $1,200 collect and catapulting them to the top of the leaderboard.

Race 3 delivered some hefty blows for punters with red-hot favourite ($1.70) Change is Coming, who almost broke the track record the start prior with a devastating 11L win, getting beat by the Dick Leech-trained Early Crow. Team Punters and Collectors placed a $150 each way bet on the winner for a $1,036 collect, while team Cannon Ball collected $675 for a $150 win bet.

Race 4, and first leg of the Quaddie, was all about team Cannon Ball with a 208% trifecta and $50 win bet amounting to the biggest collect of the Puntathon so far at $2,518. This launched Cannon Ball to the top of the leaderboard, an impressive $1,560 clear of their closest rival – Better. Worse. Not Sure on $2,003. Race 4 also saw the demise of the first team to go broke, with Team Dark Horse sent packing.

Race 5 was taken out by short priced favourite ($1.50) Hard to Excel, with no major changes in the leaderboard. Race 6 saw some Tips Go Bang race into competition-winning contention with a $350 win bet on winner Komachi as well as a 5000% trifecta collect totaling $1,875 and taking them into second position on the leaderboard with a tally of $2,353 behind Cannon Ball.  

With just the feature race of the day to go, the leaderboard read:

RankingTeam NameTotal
1Cannon Ball $    3,563
2Tips go bang $    2,353
3Better. Worse. Not Sure. $    2,108
4PPUNT $    1,945
5Let it Ride $    1,860
6Battlers $    1,390
7Filly up my glass $    1,338
8Punters and Collectors $    1,201
9More Bubbles Please $        907
10The King and I $        715
11BOOPTS $        423
12Snow White and 7 Dwarfs $        364
13Bruce’s Bandits $        330
14Gee Cee’s $        267
15Compass $        255
16How Good is the Bool $        250
17Hi Viz Racing $          75
18Mucka Mucka Mad Boys $            0
19My Face $            0 
19Third Time Lucky $            0
20My Face $            0
21Team Dark Horse $            0

Teams at this point of the competition needed to make a decision: Go for the win, or consolidate winnings.

In the final race – the 2023 TAB Metric Mile – favoured runner Ironedge had his admirers – bets of $1090, $338 to win were taken, and the ever-consistent Kaonic registered bets of $600 each way and $350 win. 10 teams remained alive in the Quaddie heading into the last leg, with one ticket to return a whopping 937% if favourite Sanblas could get over the line.

In the end, it was absolute boil over with the Chloe Baxter-trainer He’s the Ultimate storming to victory after a brilliant front-running ride from jockey Wayne Davis. Paying upwards of $20 on the tote, excitement quickly turned to curiosity as a hush crept over the crowd and everyone wondered who (if anyone) had the winning ticket. The crowd quickly had their answer….

In one of the greatest finishes since Chautauqua stormed down the straight of Royal Randwick, Bruce’s Bandits went all-in with a $130 win bet, a $100 trifecta returning 166% and a $100 first four returning 27%. These bet combinations returned $5,555 to catapult them to the head of the leaderboard, securing victory in the inaugural TAB Territory Puntathon.

No team collected the Quaddie, with only one team including He’s The Ultimate in their numbers – Team Gee Cee’s, however they were knocked out in the third leg.

A huge congratulations to team captain Teresa Clohesy and team members Lee Clohesy, Brian Clohesy and Matt Brown.

Final standings read:

RankingTeam NameTotal
1Bruce’s Bandits $    5,555
2Cannon Ball $    3,243
3Tips go bang $    2,282
4PPUNT $    1,795
5Better. Worse. Not Sure. $    1,708
6Let it Ride $    1,210
7More Bubbles Please $        757
8BOOPTS $             0
9Snow White and 7 Dwarfs $             0
10Gee Cee’s $             0
11Compass $             0
12Battlers $             0
13Filly up my glass $             0
14Punters and Collectors $             0
15The King and I $             0
16How Good is the Bool $             0
17Hi Viz Racing $             0
18Mucka Mucka Mad Boys $             0
19Third Time Lucky $             0
20My Face $             0
21Team Dark Horse $             0