IN Racing
Crocetti kicks off Karaka Million night in style
"He’s a really, really good horse, and he’s always shown us that. He’s a little star."
Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | January 27, 2024
Warren Kennedy salutes a seventh consecutive win by Crocetti in the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Almanzor Trophy (1200m). Photo: Race Images

Undefeated three-year-old Crocetti was billed as one of the headline acts of Saturday’s Karaka Millions mega meeting at Ellerslie, and he got the evening off to a perfect start in the opening race on the card.

The Zacinto gelding was a $1.40 favourite for the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Almanzor Trophy (1200m), bringing in a perfect six-from-six record including the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m), Gr.2 Sarten Memorial (1400m) and Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m).

Attempting to join an Almanzor Trophy honour roll that features the likes of Group One winners Melody Belle, Catalyst, Sword Of State and Maven Belle, Crocetti had to carry 60kg under the set weights and penalties conditions of the race and was giving away at least 3kg to all of his rivals.

A few nerves rippled through the sold-out track as Crocetti stumbled leaving the starting gates and settled much further back in the field than normal. But jockey Warren Kennedy never panicked and allowed him to gradually cruise closer coming around the side of the track, moving right into striking distance before the home turn.

Crocetti pounced in the straight and it was all over, charging past the previously unbeaten Merchant Queen and opening up a winning margin of a length and a half. Egyptian Queen caught the eye with a big finish from the back of the field to run third.

“There’s a bit of pressure with this horse,” Kennedy admitted. “The pressure doesn’t come from the owners. It’s just the public and all the publicity that he’s starting to have around him. He’s unbeaten and was a very short favourite in the first race of the night. I wanted everyone to start the night off right.

“But he’s just class, this horse. He lost his back legs coming out of the gates and I didn’t end up where I wanted to be, but he just relaxed so nicely and he has a devastating turn of foot.”

Crocetti has earned $672,750 in stakes for owner and co-breeder Daniel Nakhle, and his next test is likely to be against older horses in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on February 10.

“It was good to get today out of the way,” said Danny Walker, who trains in partnership with Arron Tata. “I didn’t feel too much pressure coming into today – this horse doesn’t give us pressure. He’s just so easy and a delight to train.

“We’ve always known he was a special horse and the journey has just been amazing. Everyone’s getting on board with him now. He’s a really, really good horse, and he’s always shown us that. He’s a little star.

“Arron and I do all the work with him, along with the staff we’ve got at home. I’m really grateful to all of them. The owner’s a happy man, so it’s all good.

“The BCD Group Sprint is the plan now. He usually comes through his races pretty easily, so hopefully he does that again from today’s race and we can look forward to Te Rapa.” 

Crocetti Almanzor Trophy Warren Kennedy danny walker and arron tata Daniel Nakhle Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint Zacinto