2021 Darwin Cup Preview


The 2021 Darwin Cup headlines what has been a huge Carnival in the Northern Territory and we are set for a fascinating race on Monday afternoon.

Alice Springs Cup winner I Am The Fox will go into the race as the favourite, but he appears to have his work cut out against Chief Minister’s Cup winner Highly Decorated and last week’s Metric Mile place-getter Paghman.

In what shaping to be a wide-open race, be sure to read our analysis on every runner in the 2021 Darwin Cup in our preview below!


It’s been close to a year since Kaonic last won a race and his current market price well and truly reflects that.

The son of Savabeel has contested much tougher races than this in the past, but after battling home for seventh last week in the Metric Mile, he looks tough to have.

Noir De Rue

Noir De Rue won his first start under trainer Jason Manning earlier in June and was last seen battling home for fourth in the Chief Minister’s Cup.

The six-year-old has won twice in his third race back from a spell and is worth consideration in exotics on his home track.

Heavenly Emperor

Heavenly Emperor returns on the short backup after battling on only fairly for fourth last week in the Metric Mile.

He was soundly beaten first-up in the Roant Gold Cup and looks a slight query over this trip.

Danon Roman

Danon Roman has shown he’s capable of winning races like this in the past, although it has been a while since he’s produced his best performance.

The gelding out of Deep Impact hasn’t won a race in over year, although he did show plenty last week for sixth in the Metric Mile in his first start under trainer Chris Nash.

A win looks hard to imagine, but a place wouldn’t surprise.

I Am The Fox

I Am The Fox scored himself a hat-trick last time in by taking out the Ladbrokes Alice Springs Cup by a healthy margin.

He resumed to finish a clear second first-up over the mile to Monday’s rival Highly Decorated where he was seen doing his best work late from the awkward draw.

That run suggested he clearly wants further, and since he tends to do his best racing at Fannie Bay, he rates as the horse to beat.

Highly Decorated

Highly Decorated is the in-form runner heading into the Darwin Cup as he looks to extend his winning streak to seven on Monday.

After an unsuccessful start to his career in NSW, the five-year-old has gone to another level since joining Nicole Bruggeman’s camp, recently winning the Roant Gold Cup and the Chief Minister’s Cup by impressive margins.

He does look a slight query stepping up 2050m for the first time but will likely give the others something to chase up front.


Paghman is back for another crack at the Cup after finishing a narrow runner-up to Ihtysahymn last year.

Gary Clarke’s six-year-old has won only one race since, but he did show some real improvement for third last week in the Metric Mile behind That’s Justified.

His recent form reads well for this, and the fact he’s placed twice in three starts over the journey makes him a serious contender.

Reserve Street

Reserve Street is having his third run back after resuming to run fifth in the Roant Gold Cup and a gallant third three weeks ago in the Chief Minister’s.

He gets in nice and light at the weights again, but the fact he’s unproven over this distance makes the Warracknabeal Cup winner a safer bet for exotics.

Casino Seventeen

Casino Seventeen is looking to break a run of recent placings that dates back to a runner-up performance behind Cherry Tortoni in the Adelaide Guineas at Morphettville.

He’s since resumed to finish third in the Darwin Guineas and second in the Darwin Stakes, the latter being a key form line over the same track and trip.   

With no weight on his back and, the three-year-old represents good value at the current quote.

Ash Grey

Ash Grey finished only a length third in last year’s Darwin Cup, but his recent form suggests a repeat performance is unlikely.

The old boy won second-up over the mile at Alice Springs earlier in April, but has struggled in much tougher races since.


Trident looks to be a serious value chance in the Darwin Cup coming off a placing in the Derby Stakes over the same track and trip a fortnight ago.

The four-year-old by Smart Missile was clearly looking for further after winning the Darwin Guineas over further two runs back, and he should appreciate the 4kg drop in weight.

His last two starts have come from awkward alleys, so if he draws a gate, he looks a genuine contender.


Lotion was no match in this race last year, but recent form does make him a viable each-way prospect after gapping his rivals by 7.5L over this track and distance two weeks ago.

This is tougher for the old boy, but he can’t be overlooked after finishing second to Itsahymn in the 2019 edition of the Cup. Four wins over this distance also reads well.

Budget King

Budget King has raced well in two starts since joining the Garry Lefoe yard. He won well two runs back but failed to finish off in his last start in the Metric Mile.

He is worth forgiving on that performance but probably won’t find this any easier as the first emergency.

Coin Collector

Coin Collector has always been a horse with upside, and he showed that last week with a narrow second to That’s Justified in the Metric Mile.

The four-year-old by All Too Hard has burned punters plenty of times in the past, but he is a proven stayer with a win and six placings from 10 starts beyond 2000m.

There’s no question he’ll handle the journey if he earns a spot in the field.