Many people dream of seeing the world, but few ever manage it. However, thanks to Blond Me, owner Barbara Keller has not only travelled the globe but earned plenty of prize-money and priceless memories in doing so.
When Blond Me contests Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong Cup it will be the seventh country in which she has raced, much to the pleasure of Keller, who also favoured an international approach with another classy filly of hers called Odeliz, who won the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville in 2015.
Speaking from Sha Tin, Keller said: “The owner has a passport and likes to use it. It’s the greatest fun having these horses that travel. Odeliz was a wonderful traveller and Blond Me is an even better traveller.
“The whole year was set out to try getting an invitation to come here – dreams do come true.”
Blond Me has raced in Canada, England, France, Italy, Turkey and the USA in her 17-race career and arrives in Hong Kong in fine form having secured a first top-level success at Woodbine in October.
“Winning the Grade 1 in Canada was unreal. I’d been second in it with Odeliz so it was very much on my list of races I wanted to win,” said Keller, fondly recalling Blond Me’s big adventures.
“Turkey was also amazing. We have had all these fun experiences and to me that’s what it’s all about. You meet all these interesting people from all over the world and you share this common interest in racing.”
Blond Me is in good hands with Andrew Balding, who won the Hong Kong Vase with Phoenix Reach in 2004 and sent Side Glance out to win a Group 1 in Australia in 2013.
“She’s as well equipped as Phoenix Reach and Side Glance to do the travelling, which is unusual for a filly,” said Balding. “She has a good temperament and it helps when you bring a horse that doesn’t need a lot of work – she’s naturally very fit.
“She went to Canada fresher than most and comes here fresher than most as well.”
Sunday represents the end of Blond Me’s international odyssey, for she has been sold to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani as a broodmare and is set to visit Dubawi.
But for Keller, what a journey it has been.
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