Andrew Balding comes from a family steeped in horseracing.
His father, Ian, trained the legendary Mill Reef, while his uncle, Toby, was one of few to have trained winners of the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
Another uncle, William Huntingdon, was a successful Flat trainer. His mother, meanwhile, is a breeding expert, his sister Clare a leading television and radio presenter. And then there was his great-grandfather, Aubrey Hastings, who trained four Grand National winners – one of which he rode himself.
Balding spent some of his early years learning the ropes with his uncle, Toby, before becoming his father’s assistant. He took over on his own at Kingsclere in 2003 following his father’s retirement.
He enjoyed a dream start, landing the Oaks with Casual Look in his first season with a licence. The globetrotting Phoenix Reach was another early star for him.
Balding suffered a number of near-misses in the Champions Series before finally hitting the jackpot in the 2017 Qatar Sussex Stakes via the renowned mudlark Here Comes When. One one of the wettest days imaginable, Balding was truly singing in the rain.
More successes have followed with Kameko providing a massive highlight in 2020 when landing the QIPCO 2000 Guineas in the silks of Qatar Racing Limited, the race sponsors. The colt won in a record time under Oisin Murphy, the trainer’s No 1 jockey.
Balding said afterwards: “From the day he arrived in the yard Kameko has just been the most sensational horse to have anything to do with. He’s so relaxed, he’s so professional, he’s always worked to a high standard. He is an easy horse to read which is important and helpful for a trainer.”
Kameko has since been retired to stud and Balding will no doubt be relishing training some of his offspring for future Champions Series races.