Outstanding three-year-old Scott Base overcame a chequered home straight run to snatch victory by a camera pixel in the Gr.2 Phill Cataldo Bloodstock Wellington Guineas (1400m).
The Dalghar gelding made his racetrack return following a slight setback that derailed his Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) aspirations earlier in the month.
Punters responded by installing him as a dominant favourite and were on good terms with themselves in the early stages of the contest as he received an economical trip in mid-field throughout.
In tight conditions over the concluding stages, rider Vinnie Colgan gathered his mount and under a vigorous hands and heels ride, Scott Base drove hard to get in the winning bob to deny Paulownia on the line.
So close was the finish, veteran commentator Tony Lee originally plumped for the regally-bred Paulownia as the winner, before the photo-finish camera revealed the full sister to Group One winner Foxwedge had finished second to the ultra-game Scott Base.
“I was standing on the running rail and I broke 10 seconds for the 100m dash to get in and see the result as I was keen on an inquiry if he was beaten,” co-trainer Johno Benner said.
“Somehow he has got his beak down and he’s won it.”
Despite expressing relief at gaining the judges verdict, Benner had been confident the gelding’s true qualities would show through after he made the decision to target the race following his Derby defection.
“It’s been an uncanny little plan to come here. It just felt right so I slept on it for a few days and thought about Australia and this and that.
“We thought just freshen him up as he is lethal at the 1400m and he has proved that today.
“He took that little 50m to wind up, but for him to bullock his way through and get that run, he’s a bit special.”
Benner wouldn’t be drawn on any immediate plans for the horse, who has now won four of his 12 starts including the rich Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), however he did indicate the longer-term aim could include a tilt at the Gr.1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) next season.