Washington Heights has made a triumphant return to racing at Rosehill more than a year after firm tracks in Hong Kong curtailed his Asian ambitions.
The five-year-old gelding finished with a flourish to claim a benchmark handicap (1200m) on Saturday and cap a remarkable comeback from joint issues.
Veteran trainer Gerald Ryan was rapt a stable favourite was able not only to recover from injury but also replicate the form that saw him compete in Listed and Group company as a three-year-old.
Washington Heights ($10) emerged from obscurity late as Kerrin McEvoy pushed him to the post out wide to beat $2 favourite Sir Plush by three-quarters of a length, with Inz’n’out in third.
“We had a good rap on him early in his career. It was always the intention to go to Hong Kong and when he went sore, I said ‘Can we have him back?’,” Ryan said.
Although Washington Heights had not raced since May 2016 at Sha Tin, Ryan said he returned to his home track as a better horse, despite the soreness.
“He’s more mature. He has the potential to be a Group horse if he stays sound.”
Washington Post first headed to Tim Boland’s care at Limitless Lodge when he returned to Australia and the feedback was positive.
“Tim told me at the end of April this horse hasn’t gone back one step since he came back,” Ryan said.
Ryan had no specific plans for Washington Heights but said softer tracks were the key.
“He won’t have many starts this time. He’ll miss the summer when the tracks are hard and come back in autumn,” he said.