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Cognito steps up to win Guineas -

Having shown a glimpse of real promise in his first preparation, a bigger and better Cognito announced his arrival among New Zealand’s three-year-old ranks in Saturday’s Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham – aided by an extraordinary ride from Opie Bosson.

The son of So You Think began his career in the spring, winning on debut at Taupo before a narrow defeat to star three-year-old Sharp ’N’ Smart at Ruakaka. He spent the rest of his spring at Riccarton, making three starts for a win in the Guineas Trial (1400m), a second in the G3 War Decree Stakes (1600m) and a sixth in the G1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).

Scratched from an intended resuming run at Taupo on December 30, Cognito instead took a fresh-up tilt at Saturday’s Wellington Guineas, and he rose to the occasion with the performance of his career so far.

Sent out as a $3.40 favourite following Friday’s scratching of pre-post favourite Sharp ’N’ Smart due to a stone bruise, Cognito’s prospects appeared to be getting bleaker with every stride coming down the side of the track. Turning for home, he was way back in third-last and had a wall of horses in front of him.

But Bosson was able to duck, weave and somehow find a way through, and Cognito took care of the rest with a scintillating late burst.

Just as Duncan Creek ranged up out wide on the track and briefly looked set for an upset victory, Cognito dived through three off the rail and edged him out by a neck.

“I actually got a beautiful run from the gate along the fence, and I was cruising along, but from about the 600 I was really sweating on the gaps opening up,” Bosson admitted. “Luckily for us, they seemed to open up at the right time.

“He’s a very good horse. I haven’t had a lot to do with him before, but I’ve been riding him in a few gallops of late, and he’s really given me a nice feel. He’s still learning, but he’s a very, very good horse.”

Cognito became the second Wellington Guineas winner in the past three years for Te Akau Racing, who also won the race in 2021 with Need I Say More.

Bought by David Ellis and Andrew Williams for A$165,000 on the Gold Coast as a yearling, Cognito has now had six starts for three wins and two second placings, with the promise of much more still to come.

Trainer Mark Walker has nominated him for two G1 features in March – the G1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Te Rapa on March 4, along with the G1 Levin Classic (1600m) back at Trentham two weeks later.

“Opie’s shown us many times that he can work miracles, and that was another great ride,” Walker said. “Full credit to the horse as well.

“We had a little bit of a hiccup that prevented us from running at Taupo first-up, but the owners were very patient and were happy to wait for today. It might have ended up being a blessing in disguise that we brought him here fresh.

“He’s really furnished since the spring, and a big advantage of taking three-year-olds down to Christchurch at that time of the year is that they really grow up mentally with that trip.”


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