‘Unwanted’ Commando Hunt delivers Cameron Crockett his first Scone Cup

Jeff Penza guides the Cameron Crockett-trained Commando Hunt to victory in Friday’s Darley Scone Cup.
Photo: Scone Race Club.

He was unwanted by the punters and barely rated a mention with Sky Racing tipsters, but the Cameron Crockett-trained Commando Hunt has backed up his recent Muswellbrook Cup win to take out Friday’s $200,000 Darley Scone Cup (1600m). 

Ridden by Jeff Penza, Commando Hunt ($18) drifted to as much as $21 with bookmakers, but he stormed home with a big finish to win the Scone Cup, defeating the Kris Lees-trained pair of Luncies (Dylan Gibbons, $9) and Acquitted (Jason Collett, $10). 

“I was listening to all the experts this morning, and they never mentioned his name,” Crockett told Sky Racing after the win. 

Commando Hunt was again an excellent winner in the Muswellbrook Cup (1500m) back on March 31 before following that effort up with an outstanding third in the $200,000 Tamworth Cup (1400m) last month, and Crockett knew he had the five-year-old primed for an assault on his hometown cup.

“He just pulled up after Tamworth, and I thought I had him a bit underdone trying to keep him fresh, and I gave him a fair bit of work the last couple of weeks,” Crockett said. 

“Jody (Rogers) let us on the course proper for every gallop, which has been great, everything has panned out perfectly, and he’s off to the Big Dance now, isn’t he.”

The Time For War gelding out of Misasio had Kissing Spine surgery, which Crockett touched on after his Muswellbrook Cup win. 

The Scone trainer again stressed that Commando Hunt is racing in career-best form following the procedure. 

“I think the biggest key is, he had Kissing Spine, and he had the surgery, and we tried to keep him fresh and keep him over those shorter trips for the Country-only events, and now he is really finding his place out over further (distances),” Crockett said. 

“That’s his biggest win for sure; he’s been ridden a treat by Jeff, and the last couple of runs where he’s been out over further, he’s been able to lob into a winnable position, and over those shorter trips, he’s always been a flashing light but never been able to get it done.”

Crockett thanked connections for entrusting him with their talented gelding. 

“Thanks to Des Kennedy and everyone in the horse; Des has been a supporter of mine for a long time,” Crockett said.

“This is the first horse I trained for Max Whitby and Brian Rutter, so that’s good, but I’ve had a heap for Des, and we’ve had plenty of success. 

“I remember someone said to me once,’ ‘Jeez, you’ve had a lot of success for Des’, but we’ve had a lot of bad luck as well, and nobody sees that, and people only see these days, and I couldn’t be happier to win it for him.”

It will be a memorable win for the Mudgee product, who is the son of the late Max Crockett, who won the Scone Cup in 1994 with Cliff Hanger and again in 1998 with Zulu Chief. 

Crockett’s yard has gone from strength to strength since moving to Scone, with his team regularly featuring in country-only events such as the Country Championships, The Kosciuszko, Highway Handicaps, and the Mudgee product was the first to admit that it didn’t happen overnight. 

“It was always going to be competitive and always going to be a challenge, and I was thinking the other day, “We’ve had a fair bit of success in the Highways and that, and what’s the difference (in Country Cups)’, and he (Commando Hunt) was actually one of the horses I had when I first came (to Scone),” Crockett said. 

“We are just making the most of opportunities, (I’m) developing as a trainer, and having good support has been the biggest thing.”

It was a huge day one of the Scone Carnival, and for results, click here.  

For Saturday’s fields, click here.