A FIRST run on dirt for Toast Of New York is the great imponderable for Hull-born Jamie Osborne as he prepares to saddle the star colt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita tonight.
With the showpiece meeting switching back to dirt, the feature event will once again prove hard to win for overseas challengers.
The three-year-old routed the field in the UAE Derby at Meydan on Tapeta and bids to emulate John Gosden’s Raven’s Pass, who won the Classic in 2008 on a synthetic track to become the first European scorer since the Andre Fabre-trained Arcangues caused a huge shock way back in 1993.
Osborne’s star, who cost just 50,000 euros and has now won close to £1m, was last seen finishing second to unbeaten Classic favourite Shared Belief in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August, and also ran in America on grass at Belmont Park in July.
Osborne, a former National Hunt jockey who grew up near Wetherby before making the transition to the training ranks, said: “We have got two and a half lengths to make up on the favourite and while you could argue that he might not be as good on dirt as on Polytrack, we have to show that we can handle the dirt ourselves.
“It’s amazing that in the space of exactly a year he has gone from winning a race at Wolverhampton by 16 lengths to running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but there was purpose in what we did as we wanted to secure a slot in the UAE Derby.
“He has kept improving and the only real question mark is the surface. He is priced up at around 12-1 and I hope he has a better chance than that indicates. Let’s roll the dice and see what happens.”
CONNECTIONS of Telescope have their sights set on another round of magic from Ryan Moore in the Breeders’ Cup Turf tonight.
One-time favourite for the Derby, Sir Michael Stoute’s runner has never lived up to early expectations, but was third to Epsom Derby winner Australia in the Juddmonte at York.
The challenge will be whether Telescope, whose co-owners include Sir Alex Ferguson, can overcome an unfavourable draw on the inner. However Harry Herbert, racing manager to owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said Moore “wasn’t remotely concerned”.
Telescope’s rivals include Andre Fabre’s Arc runner-up Flintshire and Michael Owen’s Irish St Leger winner Brown Panther who is on a retrieval mission after parting company with luckless jockey Richard Kingscote before the recent Canadian International.
CHELTENHAM Festival winner Hawk High could return to Prestbury Park for a tilt at next month’s £100,000 StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle.
Tim Easterby’s four-year-old – owned by Trevor Hemmings and ridden by Brian Hughes – claimed the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and made a winning return at Aintree last weekend.
Great Habton-based Easterby said: “He has come out of the weekend in great form. It was a good performance. The handicapper has put him up 8lb for winning a length-and-three-quarters, which I thought was a bit harsh. He is a lovely horse, though, and one to look forward to.”
PAUL NICHOLLS is banking on Wonderful Charm to provide him with a remarkable seventh successive victory in the Powers Irish Whiskey Chase at Down Royal today.
The champion trainer has struck Grade Two gold with the likes of Noland, Kauto Stone and Rolling Aces in recent years and this season’s representative appears to hold solid claims judged by an impressive comeback victory at Newton Abbot over the likes of Jonjo O’Neill’s highly-regarded Charlie Hall Chase contender Taquin Du Seuil.
Nicholls expects his six-year-old to strip fitter for the run as new stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies seeks a first Grade One victory for the Ditcheat stable.