David Vandyke admits he wondered at times whether Yankee Rose would make it back to the racetrack.
The now four-year-old is a dual Group One winner of the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes at two and the Spring Champion Stakes at three.
She was placed behind Winx and Hartnell in last year’s Cox Plate, but hasn’t raced since finishing 14th in last November’s VRC Oaks.
After having a bone chip removed from her near-side knee and being in work for six months, Yankee Rose resumes in Saturday’s Group One Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
It hasn’t been easy for Vandyke to get the mare back as she has feet issues caused by thin walls.
“She’s been in work over six months and there’s been times we thought she’d have to be retired,” Vandyke said.
“But she’s kept improving.
“Sometimes it’s been three steps forward, two steps back.”
Yankee Rose took a step forward with a gallop at Caulfield on Tuesday.
It was the mare’s first trip to Caulfield and Vandyke took the opportunity to give Yankee Rose a look at the race day stalls before apprentice Stephanie Thornton rode her in a 1000m-gallop.
Vandyke said racing could be a game of inches and he would take any help that could give the mare an advantage.
It worked last year when she went to Moonee Valley for a gallop before the Cox Plate and he was pleased with how she handled Caulfield.
“She was on the right leg all the way around to the 300-metres and she changed which she normally does when she puts the foot down,” Vandyke said.
“Her recovery was good and she’s in a good headspace.”
Vandyke has been preparing Yankee Rose at Cranbourne since arriving in Victoria from Queensland a little under two weeks ago.
The trainer doesn’t quite know what to expect at the mare’s first run back but is happy with her preparation.
“Whether she can step up in this type of company first-up after such a long break has to be seen,” he said.