The excitement surrounding the looming meeting of top three-year-olds Tokyo Tycoon and Crocetti kicked up a gear following the latter’s comfortable victory in the St John’s College Foundation 3YO (1200m) at Te Rapa on Friday.
The Danny Walker and Arron Tata-trained gelding jumped well for jockey Warren Kennedy before taking an early trail behind Tower Flypass and enjoyed cover in the blustery conditions.
Down the straight, Kennedy went to take a gap on the rail at the 200m mark, which quickly closed, forcing Crocetti to lose momentum. However, it opened shortly after and the son of Zacinto was able to accelerate into it and score by 1-3/4 lengths over Group Two winner Impendabelle, with a further 1-1/4 lengths back to Group One performer To Catch A Thief in third.
While owner-breeder Daniel Nakhle and punters, who backed Crocetti into $1.20 favouritism, had their hearts in their mouths down the straight, co-trainer Danny Walker’s confidence never wavered.
“His run was absolutely first class,” Walker said.
“The fact that he took a sit and relaxed, which I knew he would always do, and he quickened up when he needed to and put them to bed, was fantastic.
“I think that he could have pulled him sideways and got a run if he needed to (if the inside gap didn’t open), there was no need to panic.
“You can’t have your own way all the time in racing, and it didn’t matter in the end.
“They weren’t mugs but we are going to meet better horses as we go along.”
With the victory, Crocetti took his record to four wins from four starts, including the Gr.3 Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka last month.
Punters are now anticipating a match-up between Crocetti and Tokyo Tycoon, who is a dominant favourite for tomorrow’s Gr.2 Animal Health Direct Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m), with the pair to potentially meet at Te Rapa in the Gr.2 James and Annie Sarten Memorial (1400m) on October 21.
“It (Tokyo Tycoon and Crocetti match-up) is exciting and that is good for racing,” Walker said.
“He (Crocetti) will run in the Sarten and then hopefully go to the (NZ 2000) Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m). We will just take one race at a time, but that is the goal.”
Tokyo Tycoon is a $2.40 favourite for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai-sponsored 2000 Guineas in the TAB’s Futures Market, with Crocetti the next fancied runner at $3.20.