Caulfield Cup-winning jockey Pat Cosgrave will make a flying visit to Auckland this weekend to partner the Chris Waller-trained Nobu in the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m).
The 36-year-old Northern Irishman shot to prominence in this part of the world after partnering Benbatl to win the Gr.1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) last October before adding the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Best Solution a week later.
Cosgrave, who is currently based in Dubai, won’t arrive in Auckland until Saturday morning but is looking forward to the challenge and linking up with the Waller stable once again.
“I rode Comin’ Through for Chris Waller in Dubai a couple of times earlier in the year and I know his Racing Manager Charlie Duckworth well, so the ride has come through that,” Cosgrave said.
“Chris asked if I would be interested in going down and riding Nobu and I had never been there (New Zealand) before. Chris is a world-class trainer, so I have taken the opportunity to go down and see how it goes.
“If Chris is sending it there he must think it has a live chance in the big race.”
Cosgrave said he had already watched some videos of past New Zealand Derbys to get an idea of what awaits and he would be doing more homework before making the journey.
“Between now and Saturday I’ll be going through all his races and looking through some of the opposition as well and hopefully see how the race is going to pan out,” Cosgrave said.
“I want to learn as much as possible, there is not much point in going all the way down to ride this horse and not have my homework done.
“I’ll be there early and I’ll walk the track a couple of times and Charlie has helped me pick up another ride beforehand.”
Cosgrave was impressed with Nobu’s last-start fourth in Rating 65 company at Ellerslie over 2100m, closing late after going back to last.
“Charlie said his closing sectionals were very good and that he should improve with the step up in distance, so he looks a nice ride,” he said.
The seven-time Group One winning rider is embracing the challenge of riding in another jurisdiction, having clocked a few air points throughout his career.
“I rode in the UK all summer last year and then went to Melbourne for three or four weeks to ride for Godolphin,” Cosgrave said. “Then I came back here to Dubai in the second week of November and I’ve been here since.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to New Zealand, it is going to be interesting and something new and hopefully the horse will run a big race.
“I’ve ridden in Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, South Africa, Dubai, Australia and now New Zealand. There’s not many places left, probably the only place I haven’t been is the US.”
Cosgrave has four rides at Meydan in Dubai on Thursday night before boarding a plane to Auckland and is hoping to amass some nice rides ahead of the world’s richest raceday, the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 30.
With six Group One races on the program and three Group Two races, the total purse for the World Cup meeting is a mind-boggling US$35 million.
Cosgrave said the Super Saturday meeting on March 9 would provide a clearer indication as to which horses might figure on World Cup night, but he already has some iron’s in the fire.
“I’m hoping to ride a horse in the UAE Derby (Gr.2, 1900m) for (American trainer) Kenny McPeek, a horse called Grecko, but things are more finalised after the ninth of March.
“That confirms what is going to get in and what is going to run but I’m also hoping to pick up a ride for Saeed (bin Suroor).
“Something might pop up between now and then, fingers-crossed.
“Between myself and Christophe Soumillon we ride the horses for Saeed bin Suroor and freelance after that.
“Saeed is first and after that we pick up what we can. It is tough racing during the carnival but it is good.”
Cosgrave reported that last year’s Gr.1 Dubai World Cup (2000m) winner was on-track for another tilt at the carnival’s feature.
“I galloped Thunder Snow on Tuesday morning, he is in good form and he is going to run on Super Saturday and crack on to World Cup night,” he said.
Meanwhile, the jockey said he would love to return to Australia at some stage following his success in spring.
“I really enjoyed coming down to Australia and obviously, I did pretty well winning the two Group Ones,” Cosgrave said.
“I’d love to come back but have nothing planned yet, but you never know what could come from riding for powerful owners and a good trainer like Chris Waller.” – NZ Racing Desk