Unbeaten juvenile Tokyo Tycoon has came from last to score a stunning victory in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Pukekohe under an inspired ride from South African jockey Craig Zackey.
The Mark Walker-trained son of Satono Aladdin continued Te Akau Racing’s strangehold on the $1 million feature on Saturday, with the powerhouse stable having now claimed the past seven runnings.
The Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) also went to a South African jockey, with Warren Kennedy riding Prowess – trained by Roger James and Robert Wellwood – to an upset victory over second-favourite Wild Night and the previously unbeaten Legarto who finished fourth.
In the 2YO race, much of the buildup had focused on which of the seven Te Akau runners leading jockey Opie Bosson would select, with the star hoop eventually plumping for Trobriand over Tokyo Tycoon once the latter drew wide in barrier 13.
Zackey was the beneficiary of that decision, picking up the ride on Tokyo Tycoon who had impressed in his two victories at Te Rapa and Pukekohe respectively.
After the gelding was tardy into stride, Zackey made the crucial call to take his mount back to last on the rails and ride patiently.
The 27-year-old was able to extricate Tokyo Tycoon off the fence mid-stretch and the high-class juvenile did the rest, mowing down runner-up Ethereal Star to score by almost a length, with stablemate Trobriand fighting on well for third. Tokyo Tycoon started a $3.80 favourite, just ahead of the Andrew Forsman-trained Ethereal Star.
Zackey has proved a tremendous addition to the New Zealand riding ranks since relocating from South Africa in November.
“It is unexplainable. I have only just moved here and I have won one of the biggest races. It is overwhelming,” Zackey said.
“Mark left it up to me and I thought I’d leave it up to the horse.
“After falling out of the gates like that, losing ground, getting back on his feet, finding a rhythm again and then to go and hunt down eight or nine lengths in the straight – that is what a good horse is made of.
“I couldn’t have dreamt for this to happen. I think it will probably take a day or two to really hit me but for the time being I am just really glad for Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson (assistant trainer).” -NZ Racing Desk.
Photos: Kirsten Ledington and Trish Dunell.