Like Father, Like Son: Balding hopes for Derby success

Whenever you hear the name Andrew Balding you know you’re in a safe and knowledgeable pair of hands. The Park House Stables, Berkshire based trainer this weekend attempts to follow in his Father Ian Balding’s footsteps by winning this Saturday’s Investec Derby with Kameko.

The thoroughbred shocked all by comfortably beating Pinatubo in the 2,000 Guineas recently with Oisin Murphy on board, resulting in the shortening of his odds of winning the coveted Derby crown.

In addition to the 2000 Guineas, Balding as has notable wins in the British Champion Sprint Stakes ( with Donjuan Triumphant), the Epsom Oaks (Casual Look), Sussex Stakes (Here Comes When) and the Vertem Futurity Trophy twice (Elm Park, and once with Kameko). He’ll be eager for a Derby win not to end up being ‘the one that got away’.

Balding recently talked to Betway about what it would mean to him to take the 2020 Derby prize. Will it be a case of ‘Like Father, like Son’, or will the likes of English King prove to be too strong on the day?

“It’s the number one goal, it’s the holy grail” explained Balding, in reference to the prospect of a Derby win. Can Kameko bring it home for him on Saturday? We’ll soon find out.

Mon Mome

Mon Mome Form comes and goes, but class lasts forever, or so they say, and that’s certainly something to bear in mind when looking for a big-priced winner. Not all rank outsiders, not even those who are sent off at triple-figure odds, are necessarily forlorn hopes. They may be unfancied for any number of reasons, such as being asked to race on unsuitable going, over an unsuitable distance, or both, or simply running poorly last time out.

Take Mon Mome who, in 2009, became the first 100/1 winner of the Grand National since Foinavon in 1967. The previous year, on good going, Mon Mome had finished a never dangerous in the National, off a 7lb lower mark, so from a handicapping perspective his chance of winning the race at the second attempt was not obvious. He’d also been beaten 57 lengths over 4 miles 1½ furlongs on soft going at Uttoxeter and 42 lengths over 3 miles 3½ furlongs on heavy going at Haydock – admittedly in valuable races – so he wasn’t exactly in form, either.

However, by virtue of having won three lower grade steeplechases on soft and heavy going during the 2005/06 season, as a novice, Mon Mome had been labelled a mudlark. Nevertheless, closer inspection would have shown that his best form in the months leading up to the Grand National had come on good to soft going at Cheltenham the previous December, when he’d beaten Star De Mohaison and Possol by half a length and 19 lengths in a Listed handicap chase over 3 miles 1½ furlongs, off a handicap mark of 140. One or two observant tipsters spotted this at the time, presenting Mon Mome as one of their Grand National tips. On the basis of the form, he’d been made favourite for the Welsh National at Chepstow, but ran below expectations on the soft ground, as he did on subsequent outings at Haydock and Uttoxeter.

Prior to the 2009 Grand National, Mon Mome had never won beyond 3 miles 1½ furlongs, so had his stamina to prove. On the plus side, though, he had experience of the National Course and the prevailing going at Aintree was good to soft, so off a handicap mark 8lb higher than at Cheltenham, he was – or, at least, should have been – one to consider.

Bookmakers obviously aren’t stupid, but while horses that win at massive odds aren’t exactly ten a penny, they do occur more frequently than you might imagine. If you can find a horse that is attempting the same as it has achieved in the past, or only a little more, and you can make a solid case for it on the grounds of distance, going, handicapping or any other relevant factor(s), don’t be afraid to take a long price. There would be, or rather is, nothing worse than having your eye on an outsider with something about it, then deciding not to bet and seeing it romp home. When betting at large or generous odds, the value is there, and so there’s something to be said for making a proactive decision rather than overthinking.

Making the most of your money betting during the Grand National

Making the most of your money betting during the Grand National There aren’t many races that capture the attention of both pros and laypeople alike, but the Grand National is certainly one of them. With television audiences of hundreds of millions, a sizeable on-course crowd, and also £300 million plus of bets placed on the race itself, the anticipation for the race takes hold each and every year. And it’s of course also one of those races where we all enjoy having a flutter.

But how to best make the most of your Grand National betting opportunities, I hear you ask? Well first off I’d say that it’s not always best to follow the crowd when you bet. Draw your own conclusions based on either your statistical knowledge, the look of a horse, the trainers you follow, that kind of thing. Another angle of merit is in in tracking down the best free bets out there. The top bookmakers all scrambling to attract your custom reaches fever pitch when The National approaches, so it pays to keep an eye out for the various offers and incentives available. Free bets, , rewards, and bonuses are all a possibility if you sign up to the right bookmaker. Anybody can get a horse racing free bet with many of the household name bookmakers out there, so there certainly isn’t a shortage of that. Comparison sites can certainly be a good way of working out who you should be betting with and getting ‘more bang for your buck’ if you will!

As for who to bet on in the 2020 Grand National, well that decision is, as always, in the eye of the beholder. Many people elect to go for a pot luck approach to choosing their bet, perhaps they simply like the name of the horse in question. Others opt for a much more analytical and holistic approach of factoring in form, the going, who trains and rides a particular horse. What attracted a punter to bet on a horse can be a very nuanced situation. Much like a fingerprint, no two punters will make exactly the same betting decisions.

Of course, with an event that involves such prestige, many will be looking for the fairytale ending of Tiger Roll winning an impressive three Grand Nationals in a row (following wins in 2018 and 2019), eclipsing the long standing achievement of another racing icon, Red Rum. This is why many online magazines and bookies sites will playfully suggest placing your money on Tiger Roll to be the big winner. This allows punters to on the way earn a spot in the page of history while making a bet on one of the best winning horses ever. At 8-1 it could be argued that there’s a lot of value in this dream outcome, but for some they will think it’s a Grand National too far and look elsewhere for a potential winner. Whichever horse you eventually opt for, the nation will pause for a moment as we all stop what we’re doing and get absorbed into the perfect combination of atmosphere and ability that the Grand National has to offer the betting public.