DARKNESS came again to win Saturday’s Steve Duselis Memorial Cup (1600m) at Quirindi and give his Gunnedah trainer a satisfying moment.
The four-year-old gelding son of Half Hennessy, trained by Gavin Groth, had won just the once at 11 previous starts and led the field down the Quirindi hill before being headed by the Martin Fernando-trained Sutton Express inside the final 200m.
However Darkness, who had won his maiden at the Coonabarabran Cup meeting when he surged up the hill, fought back strongly down the Quirindi hill to secure a three quarter length win from the Moree galloper with Cooonabarabran gelding Bisk Kho Cho a half length away third.
Jockey Adam Nicholls confirmed his mount had been headed but was impressed by his courage.
“He was headed,” Nicholls said.
“But he really found the line. When I went for him he really responded.”
Groth trains Darkness for Dungog father and son, Graham and Trent Turner.
“We bought him at a Classic Sale in Sydney,” Graham Turner said.
“We had no luck with him down in Newcastle so we thought he was better placed in the country.
“Gavin’s done a great job with him.”
Groth said the gelding wasn’t finishing off his races.
“We just changed a few little things with him,” he said.
“He’s a tough bloke.
“I thought he was in a race he could win today.
“Greg said he was just a little bit dour in that 2000m race at home the other day so I freshened him up a little for today.
“He drew well and Adam rode him well.”
While delighted with the win, he lamented what could have been after Mount Annan had run a close second earlier in the day.
“I thought I might get a double but he (Mount Annan) is a hard horse to catch. He’s got all the ability in the world but just doesn’t want to win.”