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Horseracing trainer Andrew Balding is hitting the right form ahead of Royal Ascot

Kameko stunned favourite to land 2000 Guineas at Newmarket last weekend

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886629

Horseracing trainer Andrew Balding is hitting the right form ahead of Royal Ascot

KINGSCLERE trainer Andrew Balding has praised his staff at Park House Stables after Kameko raced to victory in the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

Ridden by Lambourn-based jockey Oisín Murphy, the three-year-old stunned unbeaten favourite Pinatubo to win the first British Classic of the flat season.

Priced at 10-1, Kameko edged out the Aidan O’Brien-trained Wichita in second and Pinatubo to hand Balding his first win as trainer in this race.

He said: “I am obviously thrilled for the whole team, you know, because we had to wait another month and longer than normal.”

The race, which normally takes place in May, was pushed back to June because of the pandemic.

It was run behind closed doors as a limited amount of people were allowed to attend Newmarket.

Balding said: “It was a surreal experience being at the racecourse with nobody really to celebrate with, but it was a fabulous achievement from the whole team and the satisfaction in spite of the circumstances is every bit of real as it would have been in a normal year.

“It was a strong Guineas and he won it like a very decent horse.”

The flat season is only two weeks in and staff up and down the country have been working tirelessly at the stables.

Balding said: “It has been the same for everyone in terms of the preparation because we didn’t know when it was going to be on.

“There has been pressure on a lot of staff. A lot of my guys haven’t been home to see their families or they haven’t been allowed out of the campuses.

“They are in a position like a lot of other people and they have done such a fabulous job, so I am very proud and grateful of them.”

Confidence at Park House is sky high as Kameko’s victory was their third of five wins at Newmarket over the weekend.

Bright Devil, Inclyne, Dashing Willoughby and Bell Rock all tasted victory for Balding’s team as they step up preparations for Royal Ascot, which starts on Tuesday.

“It is great to start the season like that,” he said. “As you are aware, we have a very strong team of horses and it’s nice to get them in good form leading into Ascot.

“The first bit has gone very well and we have a very busy week, next week.”

Murphy, who was on board all five of Balding’s winners at Newmarket enjoyed a memorable weekend  and it didn’t go unnoticed by the trainer.

He said: “He has ridden the majority of his winners for us and we have a very good working relationship with him.

“He is very reliable and talented, so it definitely works well.”

Before all eyes turn to Royal Ascot, Balding will have his focus on racing at Newbury as racing returns on Thursday (today), for the first of three  meetings in successive days.

He said: “We will hopefully have a few runners at the track and it’ll be nice to see our local track back in action, absolutely.

“We have a strong team going to Ascot this year, certainly numerically strong, and if we can get a couple of winners there,  it will be the icing on the cake.

“It has international significance whether people attend or not as far as the bloodstock industry goes and it’s still the premier race meeting of the year.

“It’s a shame for Ascot that people can’t attend and for those who are regular goers because it’s the first date in the diary.”

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