When Jamie Osborne saw Toast of New York, then rated a lowly 78, win at Wolverhampton by an almost embarrassing margin of 12 lengths in September last year, an audacious idea started taking shape in his mind – why not aim him for the Dubai World Cup night?
The two-year-old Bay Colt, who turns three this week, gave himself an early birthday present by winning the 1,900m $2 million UAE Derby in sensational fashion.
After his horse showed a clear pair of heels to more fancied rivals, Osborne said his plan with Toast of New York was a well-thought out one, and driven mostly by the belief that he is a truly exceptional horse.
“I have got a lot of moderate horses, so comparing him against them was tricky. But after he won two fairly ordinary races at Wolverhampton, I knew he had the potential to be one of the best horses in the world,” said an elated Osborne, who himself was a National Hunt jockey of repute with more than 1,000 wins.
“We certainly were not expecting him to win, and to win like that? Not in my wildest dream.
“Seeing him win like that was pretty choking. I’m speechless, really. He didn’t even break a sweat. Horses like him are freaks, he does seem to be something special.
“It is luck to get your hands on a horse like this, and when you do, you just have to make sure you don’t make a mess of it," added Osborne, who has had just one Group One winner (Milk It Mick in the 2003 Dewhurst Stakes) since becoming a trainer.
Speaking on Toast of New York’s journey from Wolverhampton to Dubai, Osborne said: “It was a plan we hatched last autumn. In racing, all plans do not come off, but he improved all winter. If at any stage we thought he would have been an embarrassment here, we would have pulled the plug.
“At the rating of 78, the other option was to protect his handicap mark and win the Britannia Royal Ascot, which is £50,000 to the winner. But when we saw all the noughts attached to this race (he won $1.2 million at the UAE Derby), we thought let’s just blow the 78.
“The only reason we ran him for a second time in Wolverhampton (in a novice race in November, which he won by 16 lengths) was to blow his handicap mark, so that he could get into this race.
“I feel sad for Adam Kirbey, who rode him that day. I said to him that whatever happens, make this horse look good. Win as far as you like to get him here. So, Adam paid the price because he gave him a couple of slaps in the last furlong and was banned for that.
“But we never thought it was a completely stupid plan. We prepared him well through the winter. I always believed that if the Toast of New York I knew turned up here, he would be very competitive.”
The performance on the allweather track was so good that Osborne did not rule out a run in the Kentucky Derby in America, even though it is held on dirt.
Sheikh Mansour and his main trainer, Majed Al Jahouri, continued their domination of Group 1 Purebred Arabian races in the UAE this season with Rabbah De Carrere completing a clean sweep for connections in such contests.
They won the Kahayla Classic, the Purebred Arabian equivalent of the World Cup, just as the winner’s dam, Mizzna and grandam, Alanudd did in the past and their eighth Group 1 win of the season.
Irish trainer Mick Halford has enjoyed a great 2014 Carnival and Certerach provided him his fifth win of the campaign when recording his own second victory of the year, landing the Group 3 Dubai Gold Cup.
At 3200m, it is the longest race in the UAE and produced a thrilling finish with Jamie Spencer’s mount just denying Godolphin’s Cavalryman a second consecutive win in the race.
They did have to survive a stewards’ inquiry though. Spencer completing a double, winning the following Group 2 UAE Derby on Toast Of New York, trained in England by Jamie Osborne.
Spencer took his mount to the front 300m out to put the race to sleep in a few strides.
For the second year running the Group 2 Godolphin Mile went to South Africa but last year’s winner, Soft Falling Rain, had to settle for second, unable to peg back Variety Club who made all under Anton Marcus for trainer Joey Ramsden.
Both horses are likely to be seen in Europe over the summer, via Hong Kong for the winner.
Hong Kong dominated the two Group 1 sprints on the card with jockey Joao Moreira riding both winners but for different trainers.
Firstly, twelve months after breaking the 1000m turf track record in the Al Quoz Sprint, the Mike De Kock-trained Shea Shea was a fast finishing third in this year’s renewal behind Amber Sky who made all the running under Moreira.
Trained by Ricky Yiu, Moreira’s mount arrived at Meydan on the back of an impressive 1000m win at Sha Tin and had been pleasing connections all week in his morning work.
The pair flew out of the gates, heading straight to the front and were clear at halfway.
Ahtoug went in chase with 300m to run but was burned off at the 100m pole, with Shea Shea runningon too late and just failing to snatch second.
Amber Sky knocked two-tenths of a second off Shea Shea’s track record in the process.
Brazilian-born Moreira, riding his fourth UAE winner at the fourth attempt, on his first visit since 2008, said: “This horse just has so much natural speed and loves fast, straight, turf tracks.
“The plan was always to get to the front and kick for home about halfway. Even though he travels so well he can still quicken again which is the mark of a very good sprinter.
“We could take him to Royal Ascot perhaps as the likes of Shea Shea are all being aimed there, or maybe Singapore in May and the big Hong Kong Sprint in December must be another target.
“It is great to get a winner here on such a truly international stage.”
The jockey wasted no time doubling his tally with another smooth victory, this time on the John Moore-trained Sterling City who denied compatriot Rich Tapestry in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen.
In a race run at a furious gallop, those blazing the trail dropped away with 300m to run, leaving Rich Tapestry in front, stalked by Moreira who had been denied a clear run early in the straight.
He was then content to take his time before pulling round Rich Tapestry and producing his mount to lead close home in the 1200m Tapeta feature.
Moreira, daubed in a Brazilian flag, said: “Wow, what a night – two winners for Hong Kong. I was pretty confident at the top of the straight but then had to wait for a gap. He then quickened and won well.”
Trainer Moore added: “That was a very good ride because he could have panicked when the door shut. Luckily he didn’t but he is a top jockey.
“It is great to get a winner on this night and it is a great result for ‘Team Moore’ – my son rides him out and my daughter has been performing the groom’s duties so it is extra special. We will go to Singapore next with him.”