Hillstar: joined some great names in winning Canada's top racePICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
Hillstar lands Canadian International for Stoute
Report: Canada, Sunday
Woodbine, Toronto: Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo+
HILLSTAR (Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore) embellished Britain's fine record in the Canadian International with a decisive victory at Woodbine in Toronto, where the four-year-old comfortably held the late challenge of Big Blue Kitten.
However, much of the drama occured before the start of Canada's most celebrated race when Brown Panther, clearly edgy throughout the preliminaries, had to be withdrawn after unshipping Richard Kingscote and bolting. Fortunately neither horse nor jockey were hurt but it was an unfortunate outcome to owner-breeder Michael Owen's transatlantic journey.
In Brown Panther's absence, Hillstar looked a cut above his eight North American rivals and he was duly sent off 5-4 favourite before landing a second victory in the $1 million event for his trainer Sir Michael Stoute after Singspiel in 1996.
Ryan Moore, completing back-to-back triumphs after Joshua Tree's success 12 months ago, settled Hillstar in fifth place, sitting at the back of a group of five who established a break over the remainder for the first mile.
Reporting Star, War Dancer and The Pizza Man all had a shot at making the running, setting no more than a fair gallop, before Hillstar was produced soon after turning for home and charged to the front. The result was in no doubt thereafter, although US-trained second favourite Big Blue Kitten closed strongly from the rear under Joel Rosario without ever looking likely to reel in the winner, who was idling.
Although Moore seemed to have given Hillstar a copybook ride, yet again demonstrating his abilities on the biggest international stages, the jockey felt he had sent him for home a touch too soon.
"I moved a bit too early but he was fine and plenty and it was going to take a good horse to get by him," he said.
"I am sure the boss had this race as a target from a long way out and it was always something we had in the backs of our minds if things were going well," Moore added.
"With Brown Panther out of the way, he was pretty clear on figures. He had a big class edge on the whole field, and it was just a matter of being in the right spot and keeping it straightforward.
Hillstar, who was running on Lasix, was value for more than the winning margin of three-quarters of a length. Canadian-trained Dynamic Sky was a couple of lengths back in third.
Carrying the colours of owner-breeder Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Hillstar was taking his career record to four wins from 14 starts as he added his name to a roll of honour featuring such luminaries as Dahlia, Royal Anthem, Sulamani - plus perhaps the greatest of them all, Secretariat. The son of Danehill Dancer, who raced on Lasix, stopped the clock at 2min 29.0sec on ground rated good.
About losing his main opponent Brown Panther, Moore added: "Coming here we thought we could beat him. He beat us at Chester but there's always a horserace. It was just very sad for the connections. You bring the horse all the way over here and unfortunately something like that happened. Fortunately the horse looks like he's okay though."
Brown Panther's jockey Richard Kingscote cut a dejected figure. "Just before the break the horse got wound up and unfortunately he got me off," he reported.
"When I got back on, I tried to keep him relaxed and as soon as I let go he bolted. There wasn't much I could do after that. He's never done that before. He sometimes dances about and gets on his toes, but he's never been that extreme."