She battled to make an impact after first arriving on the scene, but the Chris Pollard-trained Cudjerie is clearly one of the in-form sprinters in the Top End.
The four-year-old mare made it five wins from her past seven starts with victory in Heat 2 of the Ladbrokes Summer Sprint Series (1200m) at Fannie Bay on Saturday.
A handicap event (0-70), Cudjerie ($7.50) burst to the lead in the home straight to overcome the Phil Cole-trained stablemates Vunivalu ($16), who led for most of the race, and El Magnificence ($26), who finished strongly in the closing stages.
Debuting in a 1000m maiden in Darwin last March, the daughter of Star Turn came ninth before finishing fourth, eighth and ninth in her next three starts.
Back to back wins followed over 1000m in September (0-58) and October (Class 2), and after finishing fourth over 1100m (Class 2) on Melbourne Cup Day the mare made it back to back wins over 1200m (Class 2) in November and 1100m (0-70) in December.
Cudjerie was far from disgraced when third behind Poupee and Charretera over 1100m (BM70) on New Year's Eve, so victory against decent sprinters in the feature race in Darwin's first meeting for 2023 was as no surprise.
Gillett had the luxury of claiming 4kg, so with 54.5kg on her back the mare was in the mix.
For Gillett, 17, it was back to back wins at Fannie Bay after piloting the Tayarn Halter-trained Noble War to victory on December 31 in her first Top End appearance.
It got hectic at the start with Vunivalu (Emma Lines), Tom Logan's $7.50 hope Virtuous Miss (Sonja Wiseman), Cudjerie, El Magnificence (Wayne Davis) and Chole Baxter's First Crusade (Casey Hunter) vying for the lead.
First Crusade ($1.75 fav) struck trouble at the 1000m and lost momentum, while Cudjerie ended up in third place behind Vunivalu and Virtuous Miss down the side with 500m to go.
Vunivalu (54.5kg), with Lines also claiming 4kg, was able to shake off Virtuous Miss, but in the end Cudjerie proved too good winning by a length and a half.
Of the six races on the program, female jockeys won five.
Jade Hampson, who spent three months riding in SA late last year, made it a successful home coming when the Halter-trained Fischer ($1.80 fav) cruised to an effortless win in the 1300m maiden after blowing the start.
The 18-year-old apprentice, who had a win at Fannie Bay on September 10 before heading to SA, was booting home winners with monotonous regularity in Darwin and Alice Springs after debuting last April and on Saturday she produced a faultless ride.
Fischer, with Hampson claiming 3kg, made up considerable ground during the race before finishing powerfully to seal victory from Gary Clarke's Brave Fling ($6) and Cole's Flying Barty ($21).
I'm A Dreamer ($31) was making his Darwin debut after winning once from 17 starts in WA and although he hadn't raced since featuring at Kununurra in early September that proved no barrier with victory over 1200m (0-58).
Clarke's Chief Mondo ($3.60) looked the likely winner with 250m to go before the backmarkers swooped and with Casey Hunter in the saddle I'm A Dreamer stormed home to seal the race from Kerry Petrick's Constant Cause ($14) and Pollard's Go Bundle ($11).
It was a welcome return for Hunter after holidaying with family in WA.
Sonja Wiseman also made a successful return from minor surgery (wrist) and hit the front in the Top End and Country jockey's premiership with victory aboard the Chris Nash-trained Archie James ($3.30) over 1200m (0-58).
Wiseman (16), who now holds sway over Todd (15), never left the rails and looked comfortable after edging to the lead at the 800m before kicking clear in the home straight to eclipse Pollard's Lucky Dog ($2.50 fav) and Halter's Defence Attorney ($6).
Top End apprentice Emma Lines, 16, was also returning from injury and after winning a race at her first meeting on December 9 she backed that up at her second meeting with success on Cole's Brazenpine ($5.50 fav) over 1000m (BM54).
In a very open betting race, Brazenpine was sitting third approaching the final bend before Lines made her winning move with stablemate Colhoun ($6) and Nash's early leader One For Anna ($6) filling the minor placings.
Alice Springs jockey Phillip Crich flew the flag for the boys when he guided New Roman ($6) to back to back wins in Darwin for the Petrick stable over 1300m (0-64).
New Roman finished eighth over 1100m (0-58) three starts ago in the Red Centre, but he has found form in the Top End and after finding the lead by the 1100m he led his rivals a merry dance before claiming victory from Cole's Looking For You ($4 fav) and Logan's Freddy The Eagle ($6.50).