Andrew Balding: My top 5 moments from the 2019 Flat season
With 126 winners and £3.5m in prize money, the Betway ambassador picks out his highlights from what has been a hugely successful season.
Now the season is over, it’s good to look back on the tremendous campaign we’ve enjoyed here at Park House Stables.
It’s rare that we get to take stock and remind ourselves how all the hard work and dedication from the team had paid off.
I have the most unbelievable group of staff here, who are all truly committed to our vision and what it takes to be a successful yard. Not only have we managed to have 126 winners up to this point, but we’ve also earned over £3.5m in total winnings, which highlights how consistent our form has been all season.
The reality is that there are also plenty of lows, frustrations and sadly, on the very rare occasion, as we experienced this year with Beat The Bank, losses of life.
A loss in the yard casts a very dark cloud over the team, although it makes us more appreciative of the good times and gives us plenty of reason to celebrate when we have winners, especially those at the highest level, which we’ve been lucky enough to experience twice this season.
Here are my top five moments of what has been a fantastic season.
1. Donjuan Triumphant wins the Champions Sprint
The legend that is Donjuan Triumphant winning this Group 1 contest on Champions Day at Ascot has to be No. 1.
He’s a very brave horse. There are so many words to describe him – consistent, tough, durable, reliable – he’s the type of horse that every trainer wants.
He kept performing at a high level for us and he really deserved that final success, which will mean that he gets to cover some higher-quality mares in his new career as a stallion!
2. Kameko wins the Vertem Futurity Stakes
Kameko winning another Group 1 at Newcastle ranks as a very close second.
Two-year-old Group winners are so significant in the yard as it allows you to dream throughout the winter.
He couldn’t have been more impressive in his success and I honestly think he’s the real deal and could go right to the top. It’s exciting to have a horse with his talent on our hands.
It’s also great for his connections, who sadly lost Roaring Lion this year. It’s poignant and fitting that they now have a horse from the same sire, who will carry their colours to plenty of future success.
3. Cleonte wins the Queen Alexandra Stakes
My third favourite moment of this year has to be Cleonte winning at Royal Ascot.
When King Power Racing was set up, the main focus was to have winners on the biggest stage and, to The Chairman [Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha], Royal Ascot was the biggest stage of them all.
We’d been trying all week and had gotten so close with various horses placing for them but, with his family all in attendance, it was great we managed to win the last race of the week.
It was a very emotional success for everyone, and it’s just a terrible shame that The Chairman isn’t here with us to share in our success.
4. King’s Lynn wins the Doncaster Sales Race
Her Majesty The Queen has been a long-standing and fantastic supporter of ours for many years, and it’s always great to train winners in her famous colours.
King’s Lynn winning on just his second career start was hugely satisfying, not least because such excellent prize money meant it was a superb race to win.
He’s a very talented young horse and one for the future.
5. Dashing Willoughby wins the Queen’s Vase
I can’t leave out our other Royal Ascot winner. Dashing Willoughby’s success in the Queen’s Vase was not just a great result for the yard, but a result I was delighted with for his owners.
The Mariscottis have been loyal supporters of ours for years. It’s always good when they have a winner at any level, but to do so at the Royal meeting was truly enjoyable.
He stays in training next year and will be targeted at all of the big staying races.
There were plenty of other highs this season and we go into the winter with a very exciting team for next year.
Apart from the horses I’ve mentioned above, Via De Vega is one to keep in your notebooks, who was awesome on his debut at Sandown Park. You can put a line through his next run – in a race where it paid to be prominent, he was held up before making late headway on ground that was much too soft for him. He’ll be winning plenty next season.
Two others to note are Fox Chairman and Fox Tal. Both are still relatively unexposed and will have more to come next season in Group races.
In the meantime, thank you for reading all my blogs on the Betway Insider. It’s been a great season and I look forward to speaking with you all next year.
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