Andrew Balding's Derby Day delight
Kingsclere based trainer Andrew Balding enjoyed a memorable day at Epsom this Saturday, Derby Day.
Swilcan Bridge won the 2:00 Cazoo Handicap and both his runners - Hoo Ya Ma! and Masekela - placed in the showpiece event, the 4:30 Cazoo Derby.
Balding was "delighted" to see Swilcan Bridge triumph in the opening race at Epsom.
"To get a winner on Derby Day is always an achievement and something we aim to do - but it's not easy at all," he said.
"It's lovely to win the first race, it takes a bit of pressure off the rest of the day."
It was a second win in seven outings for the three-year-old colt - his first run at Grade 2 - but Balding remains level-headed.
He said: "He's working his way through the handicap ranks and that's where we'll continue to keep him for the time being, he's got a bit of progressing to do before he gets to the higher level."
Balding admitted he was "a little bit disappointed" with Majestic Glory, who finished eight in the 2:35 Princess Elizabeth Stakes.
"I think the rain proceeding the race meeting had gone against her and probably made the track a little more testing than she really enjoys," he said.
Nevertheless, Balding remains optimistic.
The three-year-old, who was sired by Frankel, already has two wins under her belt and a host of Grade 1 experience and Balding says he's "sure she'll do better further down the line."
Hoo Ya Ma! went off at 150/1 in the Derby for Balding and caused quite a stir when he finished second, two-and-a-half lengths behind Desert Crown.
Balding, however, was not surprised.
He said: "We're thrilled with him. We don't compile the odds and the horse doesn't know what the odds are.
"As is often the case in the Derby, sometimes the less exposed horses take preference over horses that are proved at a higher level.
"He ran a mighty race."
Masekela also defied the odds to finish fourth.
Balding said: "He's a very talented horse and his work has been very good.
"He stayed the distance well and looked like he might even stay further in time."
It was only the third time in 70 years that the Queen has missed the Derby.
Balding admitted it was "sad for everybody, and probably particularly for her, that the Queen couldn't attend in person, but it was a wonderful occasion."
Balding described Derby Day as a "bucket list occasion" for racing fans.
He can now tick off a second placed finish - he'll surely have his sights set on a first Derby winner next year.