Jamie Osborne is excited to see just how much ability Toast Of New York retains when he makes his first competitive appearance in over three years at Lingfield on Wednesday.
The six-year-old has been on quite a journey during his relatively short racing career to date, progressing from successive wins at Wolverhampton to winning the 2014 UAE Derby at Meydan and finishing an agonisingly close second to Bayern in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita that November.
He was subsequently snapped up by Al Shaqab Racing ahead of an intended bid for Dubai World Cup glory, but a tendon injury forced his premature retirement.
However, following a largely unsuccessful spell at stud, there were murmurings earlier this year that a remarkable racecourse return was under consideration and after several painstaking months, the big day has arrived as he faces four rivals in Lingfield’s Betway Conditions Stakes.
“We kept it quiet for a long time as when we started the process we really didn’t know how far we’d get,” said Osborne.
“We’ve taken things very slowly, but he’s had no soundness issues whatsoever and now it’s time to find out where we stand.
“We won’t know all the answers until he runs, obviously, but the signs he’s been showing us in the last month have been very good.”
Despite Toast Of New York’s 1130-day absence, Osborne feels he is more than ready to recommence his racing career following a couple of recent racecourse gallops.
“We took him to Kempton to work with Battalion about a month ago and that went well. We then took him to Lingfield to work with a 98-rated miler called Qassem who we got from Hugo Palmer and that went very well,” the trainer added.
“Jimmy McCarthy, who rode the horse every day has a two-year-old and three-year-old, has ridden him virtually every day this year and he strongly feels he retains his ability.”
Toast Of New York will be partnered by Frankie Dettori for the first time and will also be fitted with a hood.
Osborne said: “We felt towards the end of his three-year-old season he was starting to behave badly pre-race. He did it Santa Anita before he ran in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and he was kind of the same when we took him to Kempton. He just gets himself in a bit of a tizz.
“We tried him in the hood at Lingfield and he did seem to behave much better. There’s not a lot of downside to it so we thought it was worth a go.”
While trying to contain his enthusiasm, the trainer admitted he has dreamt about seeing Toast Of New York compete at the top level again.
He added: “We’ll cross each hurdle as we come to it, but the dream scenario would be to go for the Pegasus World Cup (Gulfstream Park, January 27). Obviously that would be a huge ask, but as far as we’re concerned the dream is still alive at the moment.
“If that doesn’t work out we might give him a mini campaign over here and then aim for the Dubai World Cup, or we might have to lower his sights.
“I did shed a little tear when he left us. I thought I might never see him again. To have him back means a lot to the family and the yard and we’re really looking forward to seeing him run.”
Toast Of New York faces three rivals rated in excess of 100 in Mr Scaramanga, Petite Jack and Intern, while Osborne also saddles the 86-rated Every Chance.
“Clearly he is not good enough (to win), but it didn’t look like there was a lot of pace in the race and he is capable of going a good gallop. There is also good place prize-money on offer,” said the Lambourn-based trainer.