Israeli horse ‘can make history’
Vanilla Bally is looking to make sporting history by becoming the first Israeli horse to win a race in England.
Trained and owned by Oren Sada, the three-year-old filly was bred at Bally Stud in Pardess Hanna near Hadera. Sada made the purchase when the horse was aged six months, and built a stable in his garden in Ramle near Tel Aviv.
Vanilla Bally will be trained by George Baker, who trains around 60 horses at his professional racing stables near Stratford-Upon-Avon, and will be the first Israel-based runner to attempt to win in England since Yafayfiya tried and failed in the early 1980s.
Her journey to the UK was hit by delays as after flying from Ben Gurion Airport she was held up in Belgium by the Channel Tunnel fire. She was forced to kick her heels in quarantine in Liege.
Sada said: "When we first spoke about sending her abroad it was all just a distant dream, and now I can hardly believe it is actually happening. I'm very grateful to the English owners James Dean Partners who have leased her for half a year and have made this possible.
"I'm not saying that she will definitely win," Sada continued, "but I really believe she will perform well and bring credit to Israeli racing and breeding. The main thing is that she arrives safely, enjoys herself, and then comes home with her head held high."
Paul Alster, head of media and communications at the Israel Jockey Club, said: "Vanilla Bally has claimed seven victories out of nine in Israel and we believe that she has the quality to compete at a higher level. It will not be easy. The change of weather, stables, food, water, training routine and the marathon journey to England are all significant obstacles to be overcome.
"The main hope is that she acclimatises as well as possible, does herself justice during her stay in England, and then returns to Israel safe and sound."
Yafayfiya was the first reported Israeli horse to run in England. It is believed that she finished unplaced in one race before returning home.
Alster, who believes Vanilla Bally would be the first Israel-bred racehorse to run in England, is confident that the deal will help raise the profile of the sport in Israel.
He said: "The Israel Jockey Club hosts horse racing but betting is illegal. But there is a law going through the Knesset to legalise it. Hopefully this will put Israeli horse racing and breeding on the map in the next 10 years."