Darwin features lure Brown back north

The temperatures might be plummeting in Melbourne and the racing taking on a decidedly wintry feel, but one man who is looking to escape the big chill and make his mark in warmer climes is former Darwin trainer Stephen Brown.

The former jockey used to train up in the Northern Territory until moving his base to Flemington a couple of years ago, but he still likes to plunder the prizemoney on offer in the Territory.

Brown, who sent out rehabilitated galloper Sea Lord to win the last race at Moonee Valley on Saturday at just his second start back from a seven-month absence, was a multiple champion trainer in Darwin before setting up operations in Melbourne.

He still retains a base in the Territory, however, and was landing a two state double on Saturday as his galloper, Signal Fire, won the Bernborough Gold Cup with his jockey son (also Stephen) on board.

His wife, Elisha, travelled north last week and Brown plans to join her to supervise the preparation of his main Darwin carnival hopes, African Pulse and Poste D'france. He will not return to Melbourne until after the Darwin Cup is run in early August.

"I have got about 20 in work at Flemington ... we have got about eight up there. African Pulse is up for the Sprint, Poste D'france [a winner at the Flemington Melbourne Cup carnival last year] is up for the Cup."

Brown is planning for the future, and that will be more in Victoria than in the tropics. He is taking over a 400 acre property near Seymour, which will almost certainly become his base at some point in the future.

At present he has a lease on some boxes at Flemington from David Hayes.

"Its a lucerne farm, its not a horse racing establishment but it will be. We won't put a grass track in there, we will just go into Seymour. There's too much maintenance on a track.

"We have still got two and a half years left at Flemington, depending on what David wants to do."

Brown has done a good job to get the front-running Sea Lord, who relishes the surface and the contours of the tight turning Valley circuit, back in the winners enclosure so soon after his return from an injury-enforced lay-off.

The horse won at group 2 level in his younger days, and while that is probably beyond him now he can still be competitive in off-season metropolitan sprint races.

"About eight months ago he opened a joint capsule up on his back leg and it got infected. With persistence and a lot of medical help and the work of our farrier Danny he has got back.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with him. He probably won't reach group level but he will make his presence felt."

by Michael Lynch, THE AGE

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