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Cosmic Highway made a dashing move from the back of the field to mug Countdown on the line, and win the Grade 2 Cape Merchants over 1200m at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth. He started at odds of 10/1.

This was a sterling return to form by the now gelded son of Gimmethegreenlight trained by Dean Kannemeyer. Cosmic Highway was brilliant at two and three (winning the Khaya Stables G2 Diadem Stakes in 2022) before losing his way somewhat. Kannemeyer must take credit for patiently nursing the temperamental five-year-old back into prime shape.

“He was one of the top horses of his generation, until he just became impossible, and we needed to geld him. It took time to get him fully sorted out, but after that trip to KZN, I knew he was on the right track when running well to Charles Dickens in the Matchem (at Hollywoodbets Durbanville in October.) He came in here with a nice galloping weight (55kg). This was exciting – even I shouted him home, which is something I don’t usually do,” said an animated Kannemeyer in the post-race interview.

Craig Zackey was the winning rider who judged the tempo so adroitly in this stiff sprint, getting Cosmic Highway to swoop dramatically on the grand-side section of the track. This after 12/1 shot, Countdown, had tackled pace-setting After the Rain and put pace-pressing Surjay in his place to shoot into a clear lead inside the final 200m – only to be zapped by a low-flying, Cosmic Highway.

“I just put my head down – this was such a game, gutsy win,” exclaimed Zackey. “Hopefully this will give him confidence again; he has all the talent in the world.”

Though not defeated by far, rider of third placed horse, Luyolo Mxothwa, was disappointed with 2/1 favourite Surjay’s performance, beaten half a length into third spot and marginally ahead of Quasiforsure. Mxotha thought his mount would move through to take command after being put in a perfect spot to attack, but bemoaned the fact his horse would not run straight and true when pressurized.

33/1 longshot Wecangoallnight finished a close fifth, coming from the rear of the field but slightly too late to gatecrash the frame. The first nine horses home were within 2.4 lengths of the winner, which added to the spectacle in a fittingly tightly framed handicap contest.