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.


Arrogate, who was retired from racing at the end of his four-year-old campaign in November, 2017, has the distinction of being the highest earning racehorse in the world. The son of Unbridled’s Song ended his career on a low note, with three defeats in a row, but, in a period of eighteen months or so, won seven of his 11 starts and amassed $17.4 million, or £13.6 million, in prize money.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, under the auspices of Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid Abdullah, and trained by Bob Baffert, Arrogate was unraced as a juvenile. He made a low-key debut as a three-year-old, when last of three – albeit just a neck and half a length – in a maiden race, over 6 furlongs, at Los Alamitos at odds of 1/2. However, he quickly made up for lost time, winning his next three starts, all at odds-on, before lining up in the Grade One Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Having just his fifth start, and his first under jockey Mike ‘Big Money’ Smith, Arrogate not only registered an impressive, 13½-length win over American Freedom but, in so doing, recorded the fastest time over a mile and a quarter in the 155-year history of Saratoga Racecourse.

Smith certainly lived up to his popular nickname because, in a period of less than five months, between November, 2016 and March, 2017, he partnered Arrogate to victory in three of the most valuable races in the world. The Grade One Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, worth £2.24 million to the winner, was dominated – in terms of the betting market and the race itself – by Arrogate and 2016 American Horse of the Year California Chrome; Arrogate produced a sustained run to lead close home and win by half a length, with a yawning 10¾-length gap back to the third horse. The Grade One Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, worth £5.69 million, resulted in another facile, 4¾-length win and another track record, while the Grade One Dubai World Cup at Meydan, worth £4.88 million, had a similar outcome, with Arrogate comfortably defeating 2017 American Horse of the Year Gunner Runner by 2¼ lengths.

Dancing Brave

Until early 2013, Dancing Brave was the highest rated horse in the history of World Thoroughbred Rankings, which were first published in 1977. At that stage, his rating was downgraded from 141 to 138, as the result of a highly controversial ‘historical recalibration’, leaving Frankel, with a rating of 140, as the ‘new benchmark of equine excellence’. Nevertheless, having suffered defeat just twice in his ten-race career – in the Derby at Epsom, when given too much to do, and in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita, when badly dehydrated – Dancing Brave was, unquestionably, one of the finest racehorses in living memory.

Owned, like Frankel, by Khalid Abdullah and trained by Guy Harwood, Dancing Brave won both starts as a juvenile, in 1985, in convincing style and went into winter quarters as favourite for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket the following May. Indeed, immediately after his debut win in the Dorking Stakes at Sandown, stable jockey Greville Starkey declared – fatefully, as it turned out – that he would ride Dancing Brave in the Derby.

That he did, having already partnered the Lyphard colt to emphatic victories in the Craven Stakes and the 2,000 Guineas on the first two starts of his three-year-old campaign; nevertheless, his injudicious ride at Epsom was to dog Starkey for the rest of his career. Despite stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time, Dancing Brave was sent off 2/1 favourite for the Epsom Classic, but misjudged his waiting tactics and, while his mount made up ground hand-over-fist in the closing stages, failed by half a length to overhaul Dante Stakes winner Shahrastani.

Starkey retained the ride on Dancing Brave in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown the following month and resumed winning ways, easily beating by 4 lengths. However, in the

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot later in July – in which Dancing Brave took revenge on his erstwhile conqueror Shahrastani – Starkey was replaced by Pat Eddery. Indeed, Eddery kept the ride for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which Dancing Brave justified favouritism, swamping his rivals for pace in the closing stages to win by 1½ lengths. Dancing Brave was, justifiably, named European Horse of the Year for 1986.