Washington Heights (by Commands) provided the feel-good story of the day at Rosehill Gardens when producing a storming late finish from well back in the field to win the $100,000, ATC Winning Post Restaurant Handicap (1200m) at his first start back in Australia after returning from racing in Hong Kong.
Washington Heights and Kerrin McEvoy, picture Sportpix.com.au
A $300,000 yearling sale purchase that commenced its racing career in Sydney before making the move to Hong Kong in autumn 2015, Washington Heights won two of his four starts for Paul O’Sullivan overseas but returned to Australia earlier this year with his racing career under a heavy cloud.
Following a 740m barrier trial at Warwick Farm earlier this week, Washington Heights lined-up for his first domestic engagement since the ATC Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) of 2015 and proceeded to record his maiden success on home soil.
Ridden out the back in the early stages, Washington Heights took the shortest route home around the only turn before angling towards the outside early in the straight. The final 100 metres of the contest saw the handsome son of Commands claim the leaders before going on to post a popular win.
Starting at odds of $7.00, Washington Heights scored by 0.8L from the $2.00 favourite Sir Plush (by Pins). The $21.00 outsider Inz’n’out (by Zariz) finished in third place, 1.3L behind the runner-up.
Washington Heights is trained by Gerald Ryan on behalf of Stallion Racing. An emotional Ryan said after the win: “We had a good rap on him early in his career and he ran against some really good Group horses, always with the intention of him going to Hong Kong.
“When he went sore we said can we have him back for a hack, and [part-owner] David [Raphael] said you can have him back in training to give him a go on the softer tracks.
“We are rapped to get him back.”
Ryan suggested that Washington Heights’ time in Hong Kong undoubtedly developed him as a racehorse.
“He was better [when he got back], he was more mature. He’d been gelded before he went to Hong Kong. Stallion Racing have been great supporters and it means a lot.
“He’s a very good horse. If he was a colt and had have won one of those 2-year-old races he would have probably been at stud now. He’s the same age as Rubick and was probably hidden in his shadow.
“But he’s a very good horse this horse and I’m glad the handicappers only gave him a rating of 86, because I reckon he has the potential to be a Group horse if we can keep him sound.
“We promised the boys that we’ll keep him on the softer tracks, so he’ll be staying here [in Sydney] as there are plenty of races for us. The tracks between now and September don’t get that hard, then he’ll miss the summer and come back for the autumn.”
Kerrin McEvoy, picture Sportpix.com.au
Winning Post Restaurant Handicap (1200m), photo finish picture ATC