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By Darren Winningham | Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Ihtsahymn - the veteran nine-year-old gelding - was dominant when carrying a massive 60.5 kilograms to victory in Monday’s $200,000 Great Northern Darwin Cup.

Part owner and former legendary horse trainer Fred Kersley, who trained dual Cox Plate winner Northerly, originally trained the horse when he won the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic in 2013 as a three-year-old.

But his path to victory was not without drama.

Stewards were notified of an incident off track when Ihtsahymn, the second favourite for the Cup, was spooked by a helicopter and apparently flipped and turned over in the off-track stalls, striking his head which left a wound above his right eye.

He was assessed off-track and the decision made to have him vetted on arrival at the track. He was ultimately passed fit to race and took his place in the field.

The trainer, jockey and owners were obviously all concerned until they got the green light but, with the rumours that circulated around the track suggesting he was injured and would not run, a flurry of money pour in for the Michael Hickmott trained Lieder who was looking to not be the bridesmaid again in 2019 after two consecutive placings in the Cup.

The back story to this exciting win was explained by the co-part owner Reg Webb.

“We were going to retire him after his unlucky run in the Group 2 Perth Cup in January,” Webb said. “I then had a phone call from Rob Gulberti who said to me that I think we can win the Darwin Cup with this horse – if you let me train him.

“I consulted with Fred Kersley who said that he would support the program,” … and the rest, as they say, is history.

Webb was delighted with the efforts of jockey Peter Hall telling me after the race, “He has had three rides for three wins on him now – shit I wish I had put him on four years ago.”


Jockey Peter Hall, riding for the first time in the Darwin Cup, gave the gelding a peach of a ride and made his move at the half mile and soon had the front runner Lotion in his sights.

After the race he told me, “The horse is an amazing horse. He hasn’t won a race for two years. Just the change in the environment and he has rejuvenated. Fred Kersley gave him to us in great order and Robbie (Rob Gulberti) has done an amazing job.”

“The horse is just a winner – he is a natural! I ride for Gully (Gulberti) every year in Broome – it is a working holiday.

“We have won a Broome Cup together and every year we are looking for a horse to bring to Darwin. We brought one here last year and we ran fifth in the Palmerston Sprint. On the drive home we decided to look for horses to bring to Darwin for the feature races this year.”

“I didn’t want to go too soon in a staying race – when I pressed the button my horse hit the front, but Lotion did not want to go away. He is such a brave horse!”

He recounted on the previous years when he rode at Darwin in the invitational races about ten years earlier. “To get my first ride in the Darwin Cup – a race I wanted to win – having watched so many other people win this race, I thought we had the right horse for the race. He is such a natural horse. He is an athlete – that is what he is.”

The grey gelding has now taken his prizemoney earnings to over $1.5 million.


Trainer Robert Gulberti, who has only been training for six years, was thrilled with the win.

“It’s just so special,” Gulbertio said. “I haven’t been training for all that long. We’ve been lucky enough to come across some nice horses. This bloke was retired, and I asked the owners on a whim if he could be a Darwin Cup horse for us.

“We wanted to come back after our experience last year and now we’ve just won the Darwin Cup. It’s very humbling and it’s an amazing experience,” he said after the race.

Gulberti has a close relationship with Hall. “Peter does his best to ride our horses in the feature races and I wouldn’t pick anybody else to be on him today,” Gulberti said.

Jubilant scenes were present at the trophy presentation with the Chief Minister of Darwin Michael Gunner and the representatives from Great Northern Brewing at hand to present the trophies to the winning connections, trainer and jockey.

One thing for sure there was going to be plenty of the sponsor’s product consumed by the winning team of Ihtsahymn in their post-race celebrations!

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Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Peter Hall
Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Peter Hall
Robert Gulberti and Peter Hall
Robert Gulberti and Peter Hall
Robert Gulberti and Reg Webb
Robert Gulberti and Reg Webb
Let the celebrations begin!
Let the celebrations begin!
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