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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

No joy for O'Brien as Idaho is blown away by Bullards at Woodbine

Balding and Murphy team up for Grade 1 strike with Blond Me in EP Taylor

That's my girl: Oisin Murphy plants a kiss on Blond Me after winning the E.P.Taylor Stakes for owner Barbara Keller (left)
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Report: Canada, Sunday

Woodbine: Canadian International (Grade 1) 1m4f | turf | 3yo+

Aidan O'Brien's bid to eclipse Bobby Frankel's single-season record for top-level victories will have to move on to Champions Day at the weekend after the Ballydoyle trainer was out of luck with a pair of Ryan Moore-ridden horses at Woodbine on Sunday.

Heavily fancied Idaho failed for the third time in North America when only fourth after racing a long way off a dawdling pace in the main event, while Rain Goddess was last in the E.P. Taylor Stakes, which went to the Andrew Balding-trained Blond Me.

European visitors Idaho and Chemical Charge were caught out of their ground off a moderate pace in the Can$800,000 (£480,000) feature, won in amazing fashion by a massive longshot in the shape of Bullards Alley (Tim Glyshaw/Eurico Rosa da Silva).

Exultant: Eurico Rosa da Silva celebrates after a shock victory on Bullards Alley in the Canadian International
In a totally dominant performance that belied his starting price, the unheralded five-year-old gelding – 43-1 on the pari-mutuel, 50-1 with British bookmakers – annihilated his rivals to provide a first Grade 1 success for his Kentucky-based trainer.

A final time of 2m34.37s showed quite how slow the pace was, and it is hard to think otherwise than that the Europeans had little chance from so far back.

Idaho made eyecatching progress late for fourth, having sat towards the rear of the field well off front-running Messi, while British visitor Chemical Charge failed to land a blow after racing last from his outside post. He was sixth, one place behind last year's winner Erupt, who was also anchored near the back.

Bullards Alley was given a brainy stalking ride by Woodbine's top jockey, the Brazilian Eurico Rosa da Silva, who recognised the pedestrian nature of the gallop set by front-running Messi and moved up to challenge on the far turn.

He hit the front fully three furlongs out and then ran right away from his rivals to win by 10¾ lengths from Oscar Nominated, with Flamboyant claiming third place for an American clean sweep.

"What a brilliant horse – I'm just in love with him!" said Da Silva. "God helped us yesterday – it rained a lot and this guy liked the wet track. There we go!"

Trainer Tim Glyshaw had won his first Grade 2 event only a week ago at Keeneland. "He ran the best race of his life in a Graded stakes at Churchill last year on a yielding turf course so we knew he liked it," he said. "So did the Europeans but he got first jump on them. Sometimes they stay off you when you're a longshot like that and it was just too late for them."

Full result

Blond Me strikes for Balding and Murphy

Woodbine (Toronto): E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1) 1m2f | turf | 3yo+ f/m

One of the few in the race to enjoy the soft ground at a blustery Woodbine, Blond Me (Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy) was sent off a 17-2 chance before wearing down Kitten's Roar under a strong drive from her rider to claim the Can$500,000 (£300,000) contest by a length.

Murphy was landing his second top-grade victory not long after the first, having partnered Aclaim to win the Prix de la Foret on the Arc card.

Blond Me (Oisin Murphy) runs down Kitten's Roar to win the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine

A five-year-old owned by Barbara Keller, Blond Me had won a pair of Group 2s previously, scoring last year in the valuable Topkapi Trophy in Istanbul before this season's Middleton Stakes success.

Keller said: "Her form this year in England was fabulous. She was second to Winter on really bad ground, so we knew that she could handle this ground."

Among those to struggle behind were Roger Varian-trained Nezwaah, made favourite but unable to land a challenge in the straight before coming fifth, while Rain Goddess fared even worse.

The Ballydoyle filly raced in last place and stayed there under Ryan Moore, running as if something was possibly amiss.

Also on Sunday

Woodbine: Nearctic Stakes (Grade 2) 6f | turf | 3yo+

The Charlie Hills-trained Cotai Glory was decisively beaten into second by surprise 40-1 winner Field Of Courage (Mark Casse/Luis Contreras), who drew clear to score by a length and three-quarters.

Belmont Park (USA): Matron Stakes (Grade 3) 6f | dirt | 2yo fillies

Back home in the States and back on dirt, Queen Mary Stakes runner-up Happy Like A Fool (Wesley Ward/Tyler Gaffalione) made no mistake as odds-on favourite, scoring by an emphatic couple of lengths.

Sometimes they stay off you when you're a longshot like that and it was just too late for them
E.W. Terms
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