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Sage Words A Serious Guide For Crockett

By Ray Hickson A sale yard conversation with respected horseman Les Bridge has formed the basis for how Mudgee trainer Cameron Crockett is judging talented sprinter Nictock. It was a couple of years ago, before Nictock had even raced, and Crockett was keen to pick the brain of a man who has been to the very top in racing. Crockett brings this story up because, as Nictock chases win eight from just nine starts in the E-Group Security Sprint (1000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday, he’s starting to wonder just how good the four-year-old is. The conversation centred on an analogy where you have five two-year-olds with similar ability. “You might end up with one really good one and the other four might not go on with it. But your first impression of all of them is about the same’’ is what Crockett posed to Bridge. “Les said the difference between a good horse and a really good horse is they keep improving and I’ve seen that in Nictock,'' he said. “In his first prep he won three straight, they were all in the bush and he only just won them. Then he’s come back in, went to that Highway on a heavy 10, and won at the midweeks. “You start to think it is going to be a bit harder now and he went and did it again. He just seems to raise the bar every time and I don’t think that’s going to stop at this stage.’’ Crockett, who has only been training full time for just over a couple of years, has already had a Group 1 runner – Barbass contested the JJ Atkins Stakes last year. But in Nictock he’s starting to be convinced he has a horse that’s another level altogether. “It’s been a bit of a thrill. I’ve always stressed to the owners that in 12 months they are going to have a serious horse,’’ Crockett said. “In saying that I’ve never had a really serious racehorse. What I like about him, and it sounds ridiculous, is when there are a lot of people putting a knock on him he still comes out and wins. “The last couple of times I’ve taken him to Sydney people were saying he had too much weight or he was going to struggle to get across. As I was driving to Sydney last time I was thinking to myself if he wins he’s a real horse.’’ That last trip to Sydney was back on September 13, and he did win. He led all the way with 59kg and the outside barrier at Canterbury. Since then Crockett has been biding his time, he gave the horse a week in the paddock and a lot of slow work, one barrier trial to keep his mind focused and a serious gallop on Tuesday. “He’s a naturally fit horse so he doesn’t need a lot of work,’’ he said. Nictock makes it seven from eight winning at Canterbury - September 13 “He had one gallop on Tuesday morning and I could see how much benefit he took from the trial because it was probably the best work I’ve seen him do. “This is a big test and I’m confident he will run well but once he goes for a spell and develops physically he looks to me like a horse that has a lot up his sleeve.’’ Nictock steps up to a Benchmark 86 and returns to the scene of his only defeat to date – a first-up third at Randwick behind Clipper on a heavy 10. Crockett said he has plenty of respect for the opposition including stakes placed performers Tactical Advantage ($3 favourite) and I Thought So and ex-Hong Kong galloper Accepted. Despite his imposing record Nictock is a $7.50 chance and if he wins again the pressure will be on to raise the bar even further. “To see him competitive would be fantastic,’’ Crockett said. “The best thing about him is no matter what the circumstances are he’s going to give 110 per cent. “We don’t want to take it out of him by stepping up to a grade where he could win but he could get overtaxed. Let’s keep him in his comfort zone and when the time comes to travel for better races let him do it as a seasoned horse.’’ Check out all the form and replays for Saturday's meeting at Royal Randwick

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