Before the memorial service in Marlborough for Toby Balding, Ian Balding writes about his brother - the much respected racehorse trainer who died in September
Next Monday (December 15) many members of the horse racing world – among them well known owners, trainers and jockeys – will gather in Marlborough for the memorial service to mark the life of the much respected and very successful trainer Toby Balding, who died in September aged 78.
The memorial service will be held in the Marlborough College chapel and will start at 2.00pm.
Toby Balding’s brother Ian was also a successful trainer. He trained the legendary Mill Reef (who won the Derby in 1971.) Ian Balding retired in 2002 passing his Park House (Kingsclere) training licence to his son Andrew. Ian Balding’s daughter is Clare Balding the racing journalist and presenter.
Ian Balding has very kindly written this account and appreciation of his brother's life for Marlborough News Online:
Toby was born in England on 23 September 1936. He went to the USA soon afterwards (our mother was American) and I was born there in 1938.
We stayed in America with our mother in Far Hills, New Jersey all through the war. Our father Gerald Balding, who was English and a famous polo player, fought in the war - with the Life Guards.
After the war he took us all back to England where he set up as a racehorse trainer. We were both sent to school - first at Beaudesert Park and then to Marlborough College. In the holidays we quickly became cheap labour for him and found ourselves mucking out and then riding the racehorses.
Toby was always going to be too big to be a jockey, so being smaller I was the one destined to be the jockey and Toby the future trainer. In spite of that Toby actually rode a few winners under National Hunt rules – jump winners and a few point-to- point winners too.
Our father trained at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire for a few years and then moved to Bishops Cannings in Wiltshire. After a few years there he moved finally to a large stable at Weyhill near Andover.
All this time his main patron was the American newspaper publisher, philanthropist and sportsman John Hay (Jock) Whitney, who was also Toby`s Godfather. Toby, by the way, was christened Gerald Barnard Balding, but was always called Toby (after a great family friend) so as to distinguish him from his father.
Sadly our father died of cancer in 1956, and with Jock Whitney`s blessing, Toby who was then 20 and had recently returned from doing his National Service with the Life Guards, took over the training licence. He became the youngest ever trainer to have held a licence in this country.
Jock Whitney, who by now was the American Ambassador in London, was extremely kind and generous to both of us (he financed my further education at both Millfield and Cambridge University for example) and supported Toby very much with his training career.
My younger brother Robin and sister Gail will be very upset if I don`t mention them. They were born in England after the war. In fact they both went back to the USA with our mother soon after our father died. They both went to college over there, married Americans and have continued to live there ever since.
Toby`s training career was very much helped by a big winner on the flat very early on. He won the Portland Handicap at Doncaster with a horse called New World – and had a big bet on him at 25-1!
However, for many years, he was much better known as one of the leading National Hunt (jump) trainers. He won the Grand National twice – first with Highland Wedding (ridden by Eddie Harty) in 1969 and then again in 1989 with Little Polveir (Jimmy Frost).
He won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham with Beech Road (Richard Guest) in 1989 and again in 1991 with Morley Street (Jimmy Frost). He also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Cool Ground (Adrian Maguire) in 1992. And so he became one of the few trainers to have won all three of these great races.
Morley Street was the best horse he ever trained winning the Breeders Cup Chase twice in the USA and being voted American Champion Steeplechaser of the Year in America in 1990 and 1991.
Toby always enjoyed racing politics and played a big part in it for many years. He virtually founded the National Trainer`s Federation and was its Chairman for many years. After he retired from training he served on the British Horseracing Board for several years and was awarded the O.B.E. for his services to Racing in 2011. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Jockey Club in 2006.