Cameron Crockett never imagined Nictock could be the best horse he’d ever handled when the cantankerous gelding turned up shin sore and with an attitude to match.
Getting well beaten in a trial before he arrived at Crockett’s Mudgee stable last year didn’t augur well either, but fortunately first appearances were deceiving.
“He was a bit narky because when he went for the trial I’d say he was pretty shin sore. When we got him he was chopping and changing his legs, we thought no wonder he got beat,” Crockett said.
That trial was at Port Macquarie in May last year and the three-year-old has not been bettered since.
Nictock blitzed the field on debut at Gilgandra and then won at Wellington and Bathurst in January before earning a spell.
“I didn’t really expect him to do what he’s done. That’s the first horse I’ve had win three straight in a preparation,” Crockett said.
“His second win at Wellington, I thought he was gone then he just lifted. He just finds another gear under pressure.”
Nictock will be under pressure again at Randwick on Saturday when he makes his city debut in the Highway Handicap (1000m), a challenge Crockett is enthusiastic about despite the tougher opposition.
.”He’s stepping up a lot on grade and he’s never run less than 1100 metres but he’s progressed so quickly you have to go for these kinds of races,” he said.
“The only other races you’ve got at home are open company and they’re not worth the money these are worth.”
Crockett said his only minor concern was Nictock had only run on firm tracks and Randwick will be heavy.
“I don’t think anything like that’ll pull him up,” he said.
“Mentally I know he’ll handle it, physically you don’t know till he does it.”