Andrew Balding stable tour
There is a definite buzz around Andrew Balding’s Kingsclere stable – and not just because the yard houses the leading British-trained Derby contender in Elm Park. Last season was the most successful in Balding’s career, with a couple of milestones reached as he hit 100 winners and topped the £2m mark in domestic prize-money for the first time. This year the stable has made a really solid start – last week Balding saddled three winners and several placed horses – while Elm Park satisfied his trainer in a racecourse gallop at Newbury on Friday.
“We were strong numerically last year, which is important,” says Balding, 42. “We also had some nice winners along the way and it was great to have a domestic Group 1 winner as we hadn’t had one for a while. “Elm Park is the first horse everyone asks about and it’s very exciting,” adds the trainer. “He’s a homebred and people in the yard remember his great-grandad. Whether he’s the Derby winner only time will tell but I’ll be satisfied if he’s as good as he looked last year.”
Don’t expect any fireworks from Balding’s juveniles before the summer and, while the three-year-olds appear strong enough, the older horses look formidable with Group performers and potentially high-class handicappers set to represent a stable renowned for keeping horses fresh into advancing years.
Yard: Park House Stables
Started training: 2003
Finest hour: Phoenix Reach winning Canadian International in 2003: “We were taking a bit of a chance taking him there.”
Assistant trainer: Chris Bonner
Head lads: Nigel Walker, Kevin Hunt (barn manager), Dylan Holley (barn manager)
Jockeys: David Probert, Oisin Murphy, Liam Keniry, Jimmy Fortune
Apprentices: Thomas Brown, Eddie Greatrex, Rob Hornby, Kieran Shoemark
3yo Phoenix Reach – Dashing Blade
I’ve never had a two-year-old as good. I’ve had fast ones but never near so good, both in terms of work and what he’s achieved on track. We’re very pleased with him. He’s not been properly tested as yet and he’s going to come up against better horses but whatever happens he’s high-class. He was a bit rusty in his work at Newbury recently and the ground was also quite fast but we were happy with him – we wanted him to knuckle down a bit and he did. The best he was going was at the end of the work when he picked up. He had a good stretch and hardly had a blow. He’s come out of it well and I’m looking forward to running him at Newmarket, but we’ve agreed he wouldn’t run in the Guineas if it’s rattling fast ground. Hopefully we’ll be there to take our chance, but we totally need to have a run before the Derby. Obviously I would think the extra distance would suit him well, but he’s not slow.
3yo Sir Percy – Victoria Montoya
She’s been tricky and was almost unrideable last year. She began to look a nice filly three weeks ago and we put her in the Oaks; she’d been working quite nicely before winning at Newbury last Friday, when she travelled really well through the race and then had a look around. I think 1m4f will be her optimum trip and we’ll look at an Oaks trial now at Chester or Lingfield. I was really pleased with the way she won and the way she’s come out of the race.
5yo Acclamation – Week End
He’ll start off in a Listed race at Haydock at the beginning of May. He’s pretty useful – in my mind he’s definitely Group class. His optimum trip is probably 7f but I wouldn’t put it past him staying a mile on the right track in time. He doesn’t want the ground too quick.
4yo Phoenix Reach – Seaflower
She’s very tough and has done nothing but improve, finishing last season on a four-timer, having started off winning a seller. If she can get anywhere near the rate of improvement she showed last year she’ll be knocking on the door of being a stakes filly. I hope she’ll be ready to start in May. I think 1m4f to 1m6f is her thing.
4yo Halling – Red Shareef
He won first time out last year then showed high-class handicap form but totally lost his way. He had a breathing issue we’ve addressed over the winter and it seems to have worked as he won well last week at Windsor, where the first two drew well clear of the third horse. He just squeezes into the City and Suburban at Epsom today. (Won at Epsom on Wednesday)
Field Of Fame
4yo Champs Elysees – Aswaaq
Missed last season with a series of setbacks but we were delighted with him at Newbury on Saturday when he was a bit unlucky to get checked at a vital stage and lose momentum. David Probert thought he would have gone pretty close to winning – he was professional and handled the ground. He might go a bit further than that trip of 1m2f in time.
5yo Teofilo – Sweet Home Alabama
Fast ground and 1m6f/2m, possibly a bit more, is what he wants. He could be one for Australia later in the year but he’s come back from Dubai in great form and we’ll go for the Yorkshire Cup or Sagaro Stakes, depending on the ground. I’m really pleased with him and I’m sure there’s a decent staying race in him.
Here Comes When
5yo Danehill Dancer – Quad’s Melody
High-class horse with a bit of give in the ground. He’s due to start at Sandown on Friday in the bet365 Mile, the Group 2 we won with Tullius last year. He’s in the Lockinge and we’ll be looking at races like the Lennox and Sussex Stakes. On his day there’s a top race in him.
7yo La Vie Dei Colori – Emma’s Star
He’s a bit of a favourite around the yard, a proper warrior, hard as nails. He’s still got lots of enthusiasm and the ability’s still there – he just needs his conditions. He had a back issue that didn’t help early last season and then the ground was never right for him, and it’s also tough when they’re just short of Group class and they get that high in the weights. He’s effective from 6f to a mile on soft ground. He’ll come on for Saturday’s race and I’m sure there’s another big one for him.
4yo Rail Link – Zorleni
Bought at the Horses-in-Training Sales after winning a maiden and finishing second in Paris for Criquette Head. A lovely horse who looks like he’s got a real engine but unfortunately because he’s run only twice he doesn’t qualify for a handicap mark, so we’ll probably start in a mile conditions race at Ascot. He’ll stay further and he’s definitely a high-class handicapper or a nice Listed horse.
4yo Yeats – Le Badie
A really tough, talented horse who did well last year. He’s by Yeats so should stay well and he’s got a Chester Cup entry. I haven’t quite decided where he’ll start yet, possibly at Ripon on Friday. He’s probably better with a bit of give in the ground, and we hope he’ll be a player in big staying handicaps.
4yo High Chaparral – Splendeur
He had a good winter on the all-weather, winning four, including the Good Friday Marathon Championship. We put him in the Chester Cup – I’m not sure whether he wants to go an extended 2m but that’s his sort of track and it could be we’ll chance our arm in the Ormonde Stakes if he’s working well. He’d be effective in a strongly run 1m4f race, that’s for sure, and he has a bit of class.
4yo Rock Of Gibraltar – Landinium
A promising sort who I really like. An improver last year, he won really well at Nottingham in October. He’ll probably start off soon in a Chelmsford handicap. If there’s give, he’s capable of winning a decent race.
4yo Monsun – Sqillo
I’ve always liked him and he’s been pretty highly tried. He didn’t run any race in the Leger but he’d been on the go a long time. He was gelded over the winter and seems more relaxed this year. He needed the run at Newbury on Saturday and got tapped for toe when they quickened before staying on really nicely. That should’ve put him straight and there are races like the Aston Park, Yorkshire Cup and Ormonde Stakes. Most of the Monsuns seem to get better with age and he’s high on my list this year.
4yo Oasis Dream – Teeky
She has very low mileage after just five career starts and I liked the way she won at Newmarket on her last run. She’s still fairly handicapped and we’ll bring her along steadily, maybe start off in a fillies’ handicap at Wetherby. She could be a Wokingham type.
8yo Passing Glance – Averami
He’s been a star for us, travelling all over the world winning prize-money and he’s probably going to be a bit miffed when we put him in the horsebox and only take him to Chester for the Huxley Stakes. We gave him a Coronation Cup entry because I’m keen to try him over further but really one of those North American turf races will be his bag. He took an extreme dislike to the dirt at Meydan and I don’t blame him.
7yo Le Vie Dei Colori – Whipped Queen
The ground couldn’t be soft enough for him. He ran some really good races last year – he was Group 1-placed in the Lockinge and was beaten only two lengths in the QEII when he probably had to challenge further away from the rail than was ideal. He started the season well winning the Doncaster Mile but I’m keen to try him over further and he goes to Sandown for the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes on Friday.
5yo Medicean – Play Bouzouki
Could be interesting. He was a very good three-year-old, winning a sales race and a Listed race impressively before completely losing his way. He always used to hold his breath and gurgle at home so he’s had a breathing op. He wasn’t enjoying his racing, wasn’t finishing off, but he’s talented and looks very well now. He’ll start off in a handicap at the Guineas meeting.
Dance Of Fire
3yo Norse Dancer – Strictly Dancing
A lovely horse who got chinned at Doncaster last month when there were seven lengths back to the third. My feeling is he’s probably Group class. He’s already won at Epsom and we’ll go to the Derby Trial today. There will be handicap options later if he’s not up to that but the way he goes at home and impresses with his physical appearance, he looks every inch a real nice horse.
3yo Manduro – Landinium
Nabatean’s half-brother. He was odds-on when winning a Kempton maiden in November – he wasn’t visually impressive but got the job done. He’s had a nice break and been gelded. On his work at home he’s a nice horse for decent 1m2f handicaps and he might go to Sandown at the weekend.
3yo Mount Nelson – Ile Deserte
Gorgeous-looking horse with a fair level of ability. He’s started favourite both times but was caught out in a tactical race at Kempton then looked all over the winner at Chelmsford, where the first two were 39 lengths clear of the third. He doesn’t do anything in a hurry and staying will be his forte as he looks a proper galloper. I’ve still got hopes for him.
3yo Kyllachy – Spinning Top
A very fast filly. I did a terrible job placing her last year when she bumped into Ivawood and then Charming Thought in maidens before she finally won a maiden at Chester, clocking a fast time and looking impressive. She’s a 5f horse through and through, and wants a little bit of ease. She might go to Sandown on Friday for a race I’ve won with Night Carnation. She’s a similar type.
Make It Up
3yo Halling – American Spirit
He’s a nice colt but I can’t see him staying much further than a mile as he’s got plenty of speed. We were trying to tee him up for the all-weather series but he had a toxic reaction to something and got very sick, spending a week at the vet’s. He’s in rude health now and could be a Jersey Stakes or a Britannia type.
3yo Mastercraftsman – Lady Hawkfield
A big, gangly horse who should improve this year. I rather chucked him in at the deep end last year but for whatever reason he didn’t turn up in that Group 1 at Saint-Cloud. He’s better than that. We’ll aim to run him in the Sandown Classic Trial – he doesn’t have a Derby entry or anything like that but he’s pretty handy.
3yo Dansili – Last Second
Unfortunately he was slowly away and never really latched on to another horse on his only start so we didn’t get any sort of gauge on him there, but he’ll go for the Epsom maiden today. He’s forward in his work. He’s still got a Derby entry – it’s his owner’s ultimate goal so we’ll give him every opportunity of getting there but whatever happens he’ll be a nice horse.
3yo Teofilo – Opera Glass
A grand horse and a similar type to Havana Beat. We like him a lot. He was quite green first time out but stayed on well and then won a Lingfield maiden over 1m4f – it was a funny race and I’m not sure the track suits him ideally but he stayed on well again. Unfortunately he came back with a stress fracture but he’s fine now and back in steady work. Should be ready by June and could develop into a really nice horse.
3yo Galileo – Blue Symphony
Was very green first time out but then got the job done at Windsor. After that we ran him at Chelmsford in a three-year-old handicap to see where we were and he won as easily as we could have hoped. I was very pleased with him at Newmarket last week – he found again when the other horses came to his girth and battled well. He might head to the Chester Vase now, where the track will suit him, and then there are Ascot options.
It’s been a tricky spring, quite cold until recently, and the two-year-olds are very behind in their coats, but that doesn’t necessarily matter because we’ve got a lot of later-maturing types on pedigree. They’re a nice bunch and we’ll give them plenty of time. When they’re right, we’ll kick on but we probably won’t get rocking and rolling until after Ascot. The Queen’s Husbandry (c Paco Boy – Humdrum), who is reasonably forward, will probably be our first runner in the middle of May.