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Trainer Talk with Andrew Balding

Andrew Balding was the top trainer at Chester Racecourse in 2018, winning with 12 of his 43 runners which represents an impressive 28% strike rate and he is set to defend that status by sending horses in his charge to the Roodee throughout the 2019 season.

Montaly landed the Chester Cup in 2017, his only outing that year, for Balding.  A typically exciting Chester Racecourse finish played out in front of the packed stands when Montaly stayed on strongly at the end of the two-mile two-furlong trip to get his head in front and land the valuable handicap by a neck.  This represents one of Balding’s most valuable handicap training successes, alongside numerous other wins, since taking over the trainer’s licence from his father Ian Balding back in 2003.   “I’d like to emulate Top Cees with Montaly.  We’ve targeted the race and he’s back to his best,” said Balding of the eight-year-old.

“I always loved Chester Racecourse, going back to my days as Assistant Trainer to Lynda Ramsden.  I used to ride Top Cees in the morning before he raced there, that was over 20-years ago,” recalled the trainer.

Top Cees, sired by Epsom Derby winner Shirley Heights, was a versatile horse and registered success in hurdle races as well as wins on the flat.  He galloped to a five-length victory in the 1995 renewal of the historic Chester Cup.  Two years later in 1997 Top Cees was even more impressive when galloping clear of his 11 rivals to win a second Chester Cup by 10-lengths.

Andrew Balding trains at the family home, Kingsclere, near Newbury where the legendary Ormonde was trained to win the Triple Crown in 1886 and retired unbeaten.  Ormonde was born in Cheshire at Eaton Stud and the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes run on Ladies Day is named after him. His dam also has a race named after her, the season’s opener, the Stellar Group Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes.  More recently the mighty Mill Reef graced the yard when Andrew’s father Ian Balding was in the hey-day of his 39-year training career at Kingsclere.

Looking ahead to 2019 Balding said: “Chester Racecourse is a fantastic place to visit and the prize money is great.  It is a long way from home so there needs to be a reason to go.  We target Chester Racecourse with the better horses and the owners love going there.”

Expect to see Andrew and his team, including David Probert, who was top jockey at Chester Racecourse in 2018, winning seven races which amounted to 35% of his rides, as regulars again this season.  “David rides Chester very well.  He obviously gets plenty of experience there!” said the trainer.  The Balding story continues!