NZ Cup winning owner targets more trans-Tasman success

By Adam Hamilton 

Leviathan Aussie owner Danny Zavitsanos has a few big weeks ahead on both sides of the ditch.

First comes his quest to win another Bathurst Gold final with buzz juvenile Petracca on Friday night.

Then Zavitsanos’ focus will switch to NZ where his classy speedster Mach Dan will chase the inaugural $900,000 The Race at Cambridge on April 14.

“It’s an exciting time. It’s great to have a runner in this new (NZ) race,” he said. “I spoke with Mark Purdon the other day and he said Mach Dan has settled in well.

“The barrier draw will be important to him with his early speed, but he’s shown he’s up with the best horses when things go his way.”

Mach Dan won the Group 1 Newcastle Mile last month before finishing a solid sixth in the Miracle Mile.

When the five-year-old snared a berth in The Race, Zavitsanos didn’t hesitate to send him across to the All Stars barn.

It’s proven a winning formula at the highest level before with Cruz Bromac winning the 2019 New Zealand NZ Cup.

More immediately, Zavitsanos is quietly confident despite a tricky back row draw for Petracca in the $110,000 Group 1 Gold Crown final.

He’s been the talk of juvenile ranks since scorching around Melton to win a trial earlier this month.

“We knew he had talent, but the trial was enormous. It blew us all away,” Zavitsanos said.

“He then came out and won his (Bathurst) heat last week and had to overcome a few things to do it. He copped a check and lost his balance early then Nathan (Jack) had to use him up a fair bit to rush around and get the lead. He was still good enough to dash home in a very quick last quarter.

“It’s definitely not the draw we wanted, but he worked yesterday (Tuesday) and Clayton (Tonkin, co-trainer) was very happy with him.”

Zavitsanos, who is an unashamed huge fan of the Bathurst carnival, is taking his family up for the big race.

“I love it. It’s a small community who love their harness racing and there’s a great vibe around the Crown carnival,” he said.

“I’ve been going up most years, but I missed two years ago because of Covid and that’s when my wife’s horse, Joanna, won the Gold Tiara, so that was disappointing.

“That’s part of the reason we’re all going up this time.”

Petracca is named after champion Aussie rules footballer Christian Petracca.

“I’m a big Melbourne fan and I’ve named a few of my new horses after some of their players,” Zavitsanos said.

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