Toby Balding 1936-2014Next 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.
|Toby Balding was a great supporter of young jockeys and helped both A.P. McCoy and Adrian Maguire on their way to successful careers. When Toby Balding died the Daily Telegraph tweeted the news with a photo of McCoy and Balding – and AP added his own tribute:
Southway Star (with Trevor Whelan) winning at Fontwell [photo courtesy Fontwell Park Racecourse]Up at Ridgeway Racing, Neil King's training yard at Upper Herdswick Farm near Barbury Castle, they are all very proud of nine year-old mare Southway Star.
And justifiably so: she has now won her last four races - that is four 'chase victories in 18 days. She won on her first outing for King - at Fontwell, and went on to win again at Fontwell, at Fakenham and then on Tuesday (November 25) at Lingfield.
Her win at Fontwell on November 16 was especially sweet for Neil King. Her win gave him a hat trick of winners for the day with Zeroshadesofgrey and The Boss's Dream winning at Uttoxeter - by 20 and 13 lengths respectively.
Southway Star has been winning well - if you add up her winning lengths in those four races, she's left the others behind by a total of 58 lengths.
Neil King, who moved to Barbury from Newmarket earlier this year, bought Southway Star at October's Ascot sales for £2,300. She had, after all, begun her racing career in 2008.
Southway StarBefore Neil King bought her she had just seven wins to her name. But she seems to have taken against winning over the last two years.
Neil King is obviously very fond of this "this cracking little mare who jumps for fun." She is small - and, they say, calm and good natured. She may be even getting to like the star attention she's being paid - even on a foggy day.
She is now owned by The Ridgeway Racing For Fun syndicate - and has won them over £15,000 in prize money in those last four wins. The syndicate has fifteen shares - and to date they are not all sold. But with a recent record like hers, you will have to hurry to secure a share.
She is usually teamed with the yard's main jockey Trevor Whelan. But at Fakenham the Tuesday before last (November 18), he was racing elsewhere and she was ridden to victory by Bridget Andrews.
Southway Star's next outing may be at Plumpton on Monday (December 1.) And that would put her back over hurdles in a race for staying mares.
I know that Christmas is just round the corner when I turn the page in my diary and see the ‘Newbury Hennessy 3-Day Winter Festival’ marked heavily in bold. It’s always a huge highlight of my year, and not just because I am fanatical about jump racing, but because it is such a great social event in the local calendar.
A combination of the best horses in England, France and Ireland competing at the highest, nerve jangling level, all set in glorious surroundings, coupled with fantastic racecourse facilities and all harmoniously gelled together, thanks to the awesome atmosphere created by the 50,000+ crowd that’s sure to be there over the three days.
Steeped in history, Hennessy are the longest standing commercial sponsors of any race in the British Isles and past winners have included some of the equine greats:
• the awe inspiring Arkle, winner of the race twice in ’64 and ’65 (as well as winning The Cheltenham Gold Cup three years consecutively and notching up a total of 27 race wins from his 35 starts)
• the 18 hand giant – Mill House in ’63
• Burrough Hill Lad (’84) trained by the legendary Jenny Pitman, the first woman ever to train a Grand National winner.
• 2007 and 2009 saw the nation’s darling, Denman carve a niche in Hennessy history by becoming only the third dual winner of the Berkshire track’s most prized race.
The race has had its fair share of grey winners in recent times too: One Man (’94); the equally loved Suny Bay (’97); Teeton Mill (’98); and What’s Up Boys in 2001.
I have watched the last 16 runnings of the Hennessy Gold Cup from the steppings of the Hampshire Stand, and my favourite year without doubt was in 2005 when the Nicky Henderson trained, Trabolgan defied a top weight of 11st 12lbs to hold off French raider L'Ami by two-and-a-half lengths.
What made the win so special was that his jockey, Mick Fitzgerald, had only just returned from a broken neck earlier that very week. Standing in front of the winning post, with tears pouring down my face it was a fairy tale race that raised the roof.
In a bitter sweet twist, the horse that Mick beat that year was the very horse that ended his riding career three years later when Fitzy took a crashing fall from L’Ami at the second fence of the 2008 Grand National.
As a seasoned Hennessy racegoer here are my top tips on how to get the most out of your day:
• DRESS WARM: Hennessy Day is notoriously cold so first and foremost make sure you are comfortable. You don’t have to forego fashion - a stylish, winter coat over the top of something practical is the way to go. Leather boots or funky wellies will ensure that your feet will stay warm and dry too.
• ARRIVE EARLY: Avoid the traffic, panic and last minute travel-related arguments with family and friends by getting to the track in plenty of time. The gates open early, so make a day of it by taking a picnic or having brunch at the course. You don’t have to come by car: there is an on-course train station, therefore making the fight over the designated driver a non-starter!
• BUY A RACECARD: Well worth the few quid it will cost you. The racecard not only gives you a list of the ‘runners and riders’ (including a guide on how to understand the technicalities of each race), but it is filled with loads of useful information to make your day more enjoyable and stress-free.
• SET A BUDGET: If you fancy a flutter, give yourself a budget for how much you want to bet on each race and don’t go over it. Put your betting money in your right pocket and your (hopeful) winnings in your left one - but don’t be tempted to dip into during the day. Hopefully by the end of the day you’ll be up and go home with an even bigger smile on your face.
• RENDEZVOUS POINT: If you are going in a crowd no doubt you’ll get split up at some point during the day. Mobile phone networks get jammed up, so decide on a rendezvous point just in case. This is especially important if you have children with you.
Runners for the 58th Hennessy Gold Cup (Saturday, November 29) at November 24:
Darcy and Tom Hanlom at High Hope's StudFor the latest news on Darcy the mare shot in the head while in a field at Chisbury - see Marlborough News Online news pages.
Darcy’s home is the High Hope’s Stud which is run by Mark Hope and Tom Hanlom. They moved to what had been Chisbury Manor Stud in March. Mark had run a stud farm at Hungerford Park and Tom was based at Boomerang Stables in Chilton Foliat.
They have teamed up to run a multi-enterprise equestrian centre. They have been doing a great deal of renovation to house, barns, stables and fencing and have had the fields ploughed and re-seeded to provide better grass for the horses.
Across the road they are about to put in an arena with an all-weather silica sand and fibre surface. They have sixty acres which includes part of the moat or ditch around Chisbury’s Iron Age fort.
They lease indirectly from the Ramsbury Estate – both land and buildings were bought recently from the Crown Estate by Stefan Persson as part of his purchase of the ‘Savernake Estate’ agricultural holdings.
At the heart of their operation is the stud. In the summer, when it is busiest, they can be taking in 40 mares a month. They arrive, are either covered or artificially inseminated, get a 14-16 day scan to see if they are bearing twins, have a second scan at 28 days to check the foetus’ heartbeat – and if all is well, they go home.
Silver Pond The stud has a range of top class stallions. The thoroughbred Silver Pond is one of the best known. He raced flat and was placed in Group 1 and was a winner of Group 2 races, taking prize money of over £417,000 in his short racing career.
It was a career that ended in a disastrous anti-climax: arriving for the Dubai World Cup – for which was a favoured entry – he left his horsebox with an injury and could not run. And he had just been sold for £5million.
He is now a much favoured stallion. Irish breeders are keen on him for flat and National Hunt progeny and the stud already have half a dozen bookings for January and February – and two people have recently tried to buy him.
Another stallion standing at High Hope’s Stud is Maxmillian Voltucky – a Dutch warm blood who won 32 national and international dressage championships in a row. He was sired by Voltaire who in 1996 was rated number two in the world on the dressage and jumping index.
Nelson van de HelleWorld class show jumping stallion Nelson van de Helle is the newest addition at High Hope’s Stud and will be available this stud season for the first time since retiring from his show jumping career.
A Belgian warm blood, Nelson jumped at top level in South Africa before moving to Europe to compete. He has numerous wins to his record including the South African Derby with international rider Ronnie Lawrence.
High Hope Condor on the way to a clear roundOne of their stallions bears the stud farm’s name: High Hopes Condor is now with the highly successful French showjumper Dan Delsart competing in Fox Hunter competitions – with plenty of double clears.
Delsart is now running a training competiion yard with Victoria Wearing at Farndish on the Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire border.
High Hopes CondorCondor has had four seasons at stud. He has appeared consistently in the top five in the annual ranking of showjumping sires. One of his progeny, Condors Boy, was named Leading Showjumping Yearling in 2011.
The High Hope’s Stud’s other enterprises include livery at various levels – they currently have ten client horses. They run a cleaning and repair service for pony and horse rugs.
They stable horses for private owners and undertake pre-training work, work with ‘difficult’ horses and rehabilitation work. Tom Hanlom is known for his skills with tricky horses and also teaches. He and Mark laugh as they explain that they specialise in doing some of “the hard work” for owners – hard work and sometimes hard knocks.
As an undergraduate Tom studied equine science at Limerick University and then did a research MSc at Essex University. He loves sport and was in the Irish judo team before switching to eventing.
Among the yard’s eventers he has a 14-year old gelding Uptown Jonny who is ‘sharp’ and quite naughty – but with “one hell of a jump”. Uptown Jonny is returning to eventing having last competed in 2008.
It is difficult to find the time to push young horses up the eventing grades, but Tom says: “I am looking to build up the string for next season.” He has already qualified for the Badminton Grassroots competition. This is run before the main event to give young riders and young horses experience of that iconic eventing course.
[Click on photos to enlarge them. Photos of the stallions are copyright of High Hope's Stud.]