Toast Of New York made a triumphant return to action in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.
Jamie Osborne’s six-year-old entire had not been seen since being agonisingly beaten by a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Classic of 2014, an absence of 1,130 days during which time he had a spell at stud in Qatar.
He was ridden for the first time in a race by Frankie Dettori and took up the running before the turn into the straight, showing the right sort of attitude close home to hold off Petite Jack.
Toast Of New York was initially retired following a tendon injury when being prepared for the Dubai World Cup of 2015, meaning his new owners Al Shaqab Racing, who bought him after his Stateside run, had never seen him carry their colours.
“I’m just hugely relieved. I was in unknown territory really, trying to bring a horse back from that length of absence,” said Osborne. “It’s an unusual task, so it’s a relief we were able to get him to the point of doing what he’s done.”
Ridden for the first time in a race by Frankie Dettori, he actually threw the Italian off on the way to the start despite wearing a hood, suggesting he was feeling very well in himself.
“He hasn’t beaten bad horses there, they were all rated over 100,” Osborne went on.
“This horse’s strengths are going hard – it is why dirt suits him, as he has an incredibly high cruising speed and he digs in.
“In a race that is a war of attrition, that is when he is at his best, so you could say today wasn’t playing to his strengths, even though Frankie has ridden him perfectly.
“Obviously, with the feeling that he might need the run, we were a little bit cautious in how aggressive we were through the race.
“He’s only set foot on dirt once in his life, but put up the performance of his life and I have no doubt he’s a better horse on dirt.”
He said: “He’s the only six-year-old entire I’ve had, not surprisingly, and interestingly, looking at him on TV today from the Newmarket sales, I thought he looked very fat but he’s actually only five kilos heavier than when he ran at Santa Anita.
“So clearly there is a change of shape at his age. We can tune him a bit more yet and as long as he’s sound in the morning and his leg is fine, we’ll make a plan from there.”
The Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on January 27 has been mooted as an option, as has the Dubai World Cup in March or even All-Weather Championship Finals Days at Lingfield on Good Friday.
Osborne said: “There’s an awful lot to be decided and I’ll have to speak to the team, but if we ended up going the Pegasus route we wouldn’t have a run before it.”
Dettori was suitably impressed, feeling there was plenty more to come, saying: “Jamie has done a great job to get him in this shape first time out. After three years that was a great effort.”