THE Guy Walter-trained Canny Ballad and champion Sydney female jockey Kathy O’Hara joined forces to reign supreme over the strongest Albury Gold Cup field in the race’s history yesterday.
Canny Ballad ($8) stormed home after being well back on the home turn to defeat a star-studded field littered with group and listed class performers.
The impressive victory didn’t come without some anxious moments after Canny Ballad was involved in a major scrimmage entering the home straight.
Despite the interference, Canny Ballad showed an impressive finish to score a thrilling win over local hope Price Of Glory ($51) by a nose with stablemate Jacquinot Bay ($4-fav) a neck away in third.
The victory atoned for a string of minor placings this preparation after Canny Ballad had run four consecutive seconds since resuming at Randwick early last month.
Yesterday was the Dream Ballad gelding’s first try over 2000 metres after having never previously raced over further than 1600 metres.
Walter was delighted to snare his first Albury Gold Cup from his first attempt.
“It was a long way to come to find out if he could run 2000 metres but fortunately it worked out well,” Walter said.
“He is certainly deserving of a win — he has run seven or eight seconds in his short career.
“I thought it was a fabulous win and it is a dream come true for the owners — they have been very patient with him.
“We will have a think about what we are going to do — we might go to the Wagga Gold Cup or we might run him in the Japan trophy race over the carnival.”
O’Hara was also able to claim her first Albury Gold Cup from her first attempt and become only the second female jockey to win the race since Lisa Cropp in 1995.
Linda Meech made it a female quinella after partnering Price Of Glory.
The poster girl of Sydney racing was reunited with Canny Ballad for the first time since running second at Warwick Farm in August and was thrilled to pick up a win on the four-year-old in a Listed event.
“He enjoyed a beautiful run from his barrier, but he copped a bit of the backwash when entering the straight, which unbalanced him,” she said.
“He took the entire Albury straight to mow them down but he relished the 2000 metres, I couldn’t pull him up after the race.
“He has been unlucky not to win before and I am happy that I’ve got back on this horse and he has won this race for Guy and the owners.”
It was Canny Ballad’s fifth career win from 18 starts with the $102,000 first prizemoney taking his career earnings past $250,000.
The victory was also a welcome tonic for Walter who was forced to retire his outstanding mare Appearance during the week.
Appearance had been in devastating form, winning the Expressway Stakes, Apolo Stakes and Canterbury Stakes in successive starts.
There were plenty of hard luck stories including the well-supported Massiyn which finished second last.
Last year’s winner Niblick and 2012 winner Extra Zero also finished midfield.