IN Racing
Crocetti out to keep picket fence form line intact
“He has been working really well, he had a gallop between races last Sunday at Ellerslie, and he went well and is happy."
Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | January 25, 2024
Trainers Danny Walker (left) and Arron Tata, and breeder-owner Daniel Nakhle, pictured with Crocetti following his Gr.1 NZ 2000 Guineas triumph. Photo: Race Images South

There is plenty of excitement surrounding Saturday’s TAB Karaka Millions meeting at Ellerslie, and standout three-year-old Crocetti is expected to kick the night off with a bang when he lines-up in the opening race of the six-race card, the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Almanzor Trophy (1200m).

The Danny Walker and Arron Tata-trained gelding has yet to taste defeat in his six starts to date, including giving breeder-owner Daniel Nakhle his first Group One win when taking out the New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November.

The son of Zacinto will put his record to the test this weekend, with TAB bookmakers favouring him to continue his winning ways, setting him as a red-hot $1.30 favourite.

However, he will be met by stern opposition, including the undefeated Stephen Marsh-trained filly Merchant Queen, who has shortened into $5.50, while $10 third favourite Just A Floozie beat subsequent Group One winner Molly Bloom and Group Three performer Orchestral in her only start to date.

Crocetti has been freshened since his elite-level triumph and his conditioners have been pleased with his progress ahead of his first assignment of the year.

“He had three weeks off after Riccarton,” Walker said. “He has been working really well, he had a gallop between races last Sunday at Ellerslie, and he went well and is happy.

“It was nice to go around Ellerslie before Saturday, and the races were on as well, so he got the feel of it.

“It’s exciting to have a horse in on Karaka Millions night, it is going to be a huge night.”

Crocetti will carry 60kg from gate three on Saturday and will have the services of in-form hoop Warren Kennedy.

“We have drawn three so it’s nice and handy and we can do what we like from there,” Walker said.

All going to plan after Saturday, Crocetti will head to Te Rapa a fortnight later to have a crack at weight-for-age level for the first time in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m).

“Hopefully after Saturday is the BCD Sprint and then we will have to sit down and decide whether he goes to the paddock or we have a look at what else is left for him,” Walker said.

The Walker/Tata barn take winning form into the weekend after stable runner Sayan broke through for his maiden victory in The Boltholder 2000 at Matamata on Wednesday.

It was a welcome result for the four-year-old son of Mongolian Khan, who was having his 13th raceday start, and Walker believes he has a bright future over ground.

“He is a nice staying horse I reckon, he just hasn’t had all the luck in the world and has had a few little injuries,” Walker said. “He won really nice yesterday and back over distance might be just his go."

Crocetti danny walker and arron tata Almanzor Trophy Daniel Nakhle Zacinto Warren Kennedy