Permian digs deep in Dante
Blond Me cast aside any stamina fears after gaining the most significant success of her career with a shock victory in the Betfred Middleton Stakes.
Although sent off the 11-1 outsider of the quartet to go to post in the extended mile-and-a-quarter test, the Andrew Balding-trained five-year-old took her form to new heights to claim the second Group Two of her career.
Having failed to figure on her only start over the trip on her final outing of last season in Italy, the jury was out whether the daughter of Tamayuz would be able to see out the trip.
As early leader and favourite The Black Princess attempted to turn the race into a sprint halfway down the home straight, it appeared those tactics might be a winning move.
Having seen off the attentions of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf winner Queen’s Trust it looked as though the John Gosden-trained runner was going to back up her Group Three win at Chantilly last month.
Although taking time to hit top gear, Oisin Murphy got a good tune out of Blond Me to deliver her fast and late, bettering The Black Princess by a length and a quarter.
Murphy said: “The ground was a concern, but fair play to Andrew and Mrs Keller as they took a chance to run her and it’s paid dividends.
“It’s a big York meeting and I wanted a winner so I thought I would try (a different racing line).
“Looking at her action, you would think she wants firm ground so maybe she’s just improved a bit.”
Balding was not at the track but was represented by his wife Anna Lisa, who said: “We’re over the moon as we didn’t think she would handle the ground.
“She picked up really well and has strengthened up well over the winter.
“I’ve no idea were she will go next.”
Gosden is now planning to step up in trip with The Black Princess.
He said: “Frankie (Dettori) said she just felt a little flat after France. She didn’t have quite the same kick as over there.
“She will probably go for the Lancashire Oaks next and we will step her up in trip.”
Sir Michael Stoute was delighted with the run of South African import Smart Call, who was third, one place ahead of stablemate Queen’s Trust.
He said: “I’m very pleased with Smart Call. She had not run for 16 months so you would think she would come on for it.
“She bounces off fast ground, it was pleasing to see her run so well. I’ve no idea where she goes next.
“Queen’s Trust just got a little tired in the last furlong.”