Trainer Kelvin Tyler cut a satisfied figure at Riccarton on Saturday after Tobilicious made a return to winning form following twelve months off the scene due to a suspensory injury suffered when finishing fourth behind Melody Belle in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham in January last year.
The grey six-year-old gelding had established himself as one of the South Island’s leading performers during his five-year-old season where he finished second in the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton along with his gallant performance at Trentham.
With the prognosis that the injury could spell the end of his career, Tyler and daughter Aimee who prepare him from their Riverton base, set about giving him a decent break away from the rigours of the racetrack before having the leg scanned six months later.
The scan revealed the injury had healed well with Tobilicious brought back into work on a day-by-day basis that saw him have his first start in a new campaign at Wingatui earlier this month where he finished a creditable fifth.
Second up on Saturday, rider Kozzi Asano settled him back in the early running before threading a path through runners approaching the home bend.
Asano had Tobilicious humming at the 300m as he dived for an inside run, before finishing off strongly in the closing stages to collar Harbourside and pacemaker King Cougar to deliver career win number five.
“That is a massive thrill and to see him do it after being off the scene for so long is very fulfilling,” Kelvin Tyler said.
“When he did his suspensory the prognosis wasn’t very good at all and there was the thought he may never race again.
“We put him out for six months and then had it scanned again and the vet told us it was looking pretty good, so we put him into light work and just brought him along slowly.
“He went a nice race first up at Wingatui without threatening, but he stripped a fitter horse today and really appreciated the little bit of give there is in the track out there.
“He is a good horse and his record shows that, so it is just so pleasing to see him back racing and winning again.”
Tobilicious is one of six runners from the Tyler stable that will be on a plane to Queensland towards the end of April as they look to plunder some of the riches available during the Brisbane winter carnival.
“He will be well suited in Brisbane as there are just so many opportunities for him,” Tyler said.
“Even if he doesn’t run in the really big races, the money is just so good and we think he is capable of being right amongst it.
“We’re taking around six horses over and he is one while Dunhill, who ran a beauty for fourth as well today, is another who is going.
“We’re really treating it like a working holiday and I’m looking forward to getting over there and getting stuck in.”
The victory was the fifth for Tobilicious from 23 starts and took his prizemoney earnings to over NZD$138,000.