The former Maher and Eustace trained Tavistock gelding Playoffs scored a dominant win in the A$200,000 Darwin Cup (2000m) on Monday beating Savabeel eight-year-old Kaonic.
Trained by champion Northern Territory trainer Gary Clarke, Playoffs made a winning debut from his new quarters when successful in the A$60,000 Chief Ministers Cup and kept up the good work to go and win his target race.
The win was an emotional one for Clarke, his wife Sharlene and their family as they tragically lost their son Guy late last year.
Playoffs, who is raced by a group including prominent owners Colin McKenna, John O'Neill and his former trainer Ciaron Maher, ran a slick 2.03.57 to break the track record.
Playoffs extended his overall record to seven wins and six placings from 23 starts with prizemoney just shy of A$500,000.
For Clarke it was his fourth Darwin Cup, having won one as a jockey and three as a trainer.
"I'm one relieved man, I can tell you that," Clarke said after the race.
"Ciaron contacted me ages ago and asked if I thought this horse was good enough to win the Darwin Cup - that was quite a while ago but there's been a plan in motion ever since.
"That horse is one tough horse.
"It was a big win. A race like that isn't something you do with just one or two months of planning, it takes six months.
"What you need to do in a race like this is stay out of trouble.
"I knew he had the ability to win it, the only unknown factor was if he had the speed coming out the gates.
"It's been a very hard year, but we've had good people around us and good staff that sort of helped us through. We've had good help all the way through."
Playoffs was ridden by Kiwi jockey Jarrod Todd, who is the leading rider in Darwin and aligned with Clarke.
"It's pretty special, it's pretty special for Gary and the family who lost their son. I couldn't be happier with the result," Todd said.
"Playoffs held a strong gallop. He could have gone another 200m and still won it so a really good run from the horse."
Bred by Sir Patrick & Lady Hogan, Playoffs was a $230,000 purchase from Cambridge Stud’s Karaka Book 1 Yearling Sales draft in 2018.
Initially purchased by Dean Hawthorne on behalf of Jonathan Munz’ Pinecliff Racing, Playoffs is a half-brother to Group Three placed Divine Power from unplaced Zabeel mare Lazaan, a daughter of triple Group One winning Encosta de Lago mare Lashed.