IT’S a family affair when you arrive at Park House Stables in Kingsclere – the home to trainer Andrew Balding.
From his wife Anna Lisa, to mother Emma and father Ian – who was Champion trainer in 1971 – everyone gets involved with the day-to-day activities in the yard.
“My mother is still very much involved in the business side of things and dad loves to watch the runners on the gallops. Anna Lisa is also heavily involved in many aspects of it too, so it’s very much a team game.”
Andrew was assistant to his father from 1999 to 2003 before taking over the reins and creating his own stamp within the sport.
“The last few years have been great, we have increased in terms of numbers,” said Balding. “When I first took over the yard, we had 110 boxes and now we have 200 and as we have increased capacity, it gives you a better chance of winning races and getting better horses.
“It’s a different ball game now, than it was back in the day, but in order to have a chance to compete at the highest level, you need 200 horses really.”
A family affair
And although it’s more work for his team at Park House, Balding believes that the hard work is definitely paying off.
“We have invested heavily in the facilities in the last five years to try and take it to the level where we can compete with Newmarket and the big training centres.
“I think the investment is paying off because results have been very good this year and a lot of that is down to the quality of staff and the quality of the facilities we have.”
Balding has the benefits of having his own land, which includes the use of his own gallops and being away from Lambourn, where over 30 trainers are located, is key.
“I think it does have its benefits,” admitted Balding. “Myself and Anna Lisa have spoken about this as I don’t think we’d hold the same attraction training in the centre of Lambourn, even though you may save on the facility upkeep.
“It’s a joy really because sometimes you may have to queue to get on to the gallops, so it saves a lot of time being out in Kingsclere and having our own space.”
And since 2003, Balding has had many winners and stunning performances, but a run from a horse called Side Glance remains close to his heart.
“He won a major group 1 in Australia in 2013 called the Longines Mackinnon Stakes and it was special because he had been bred at Kingsclere.
“My mother had trained his father and mother and it was a magic moment to win a big race with a horse that was Kingsclere through and through.”
And with the flat-season just underway, Balding believes it can be a successful year.
“I am very fortunate this year to have a lot of three-year-olds, particularly colts, which is important for the yard going forward and at this moment in time it is exciting times for everyone at Kingsclere.”
Since a young age, the trainer felt that he was destined to pursue a career in the industry following in his father’s footsteps.
“It’s not a 9-5 job, you never leave it behind when you come home and it tends to involve you all day and as a result your family get involved as well.
“I enjoyed it from a young age and I was always interested in what horses were running where and I think my kids are no different.
And when Balding does have time away from the Park House stables, he enjoys getting involved in a number of activities.
“We have season tickets at Southampton,” he said. “My father was a director with them when I was a child so we have a strong allegiance to the team.
“We go down to St Mary’s when we can and we also play golf and tennis as well as watching the kids play cricket for Kingsclere on a Sunday.”
The Kingsclere trainer is ‘determined’ to continue succeeding for King Power Racing Ltd out of respect for owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died in a helicopter crash last October.
The late chairman of Leicester City Football Club trained a number of his horses out of Park House Stables in Kingsclere.
And Balding is hoping he can continue to have many more winners for the owners from Thailand.
“I had huge admiration and respect for the chairman, not only did he give me the opportunity, he believed in me by sending some top class horses, he was also a friend.
“He came here on many occasions and he was a fantastic human being and it was an absolute tragedy what happened, not just for me, but for hundreds of people associated with him and those other people that lost their lives too.”
King Power’s Beat The Bank did run in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month, but was unable to achieve success.
However, due to the circumstances, Balding admitted that he is hungry to win more races for his owners as they strive to become one of the best in Europe.
“It makes me extra determined to try and fulfil his legacy, because he set out to make King Power Racing one of the forces in European racing.
“Things have started very well this year, but we have a long way to go and we’re all striving hard to achieve that.”
Balding also revealed that Berkshire Rocco, Fox Duty Free and Never Dark are three, two-year-olds for NWN readers to watch.