Israeli filly set for British debut
BRITISH racecourses will soon be saying shalom to the latest international visitor to these shores in the shape of leading Israeli-trained filly Vanilla Bally.
The four-year-old is set to arrive with colourful antecedents to rival the Takeover Target story - albeit at a much lower level.
Vanilla Bally is trained by her owner, who splits his time between working for the Ramle City council and looking after the filly in his back garden.
Among the leading lights of the nascent Israeli racing scene where she has won seven of her nine races, Vanilla Bally has been given a BHA handicap mark of 60, which reflects the quality of the company she has been keeping to date.
First-season trainer George Baker, who also has two Israeli-bred yearlings in his care, will be the man charged with attempting to land a British race with an Israeli-bred forthe first time.
"She's due to jump on a plane on Thursday evening and will arrive early Friday," said Baker. "It's an incredibly sporting gesture to send her over.
"I haven't seen her and can't claim to be an Israeli form book expert but we'll let her acclimatise and go from there."
The switch from the middle-east to middle England will be only a temporary arrangement as Vanilla Bally is very much one of the family at home.
"She will definitely go back," Baker said. "She's been as much a family pet as anything and while the owner's excited he doesn't want to lose his pet."