Tony Balding, one of the leading horse trainers in the UK, passed away on Thursday at the age of 78. Figures from the racing world lined up to pay their respects to a man many consider one of the best trainers in the history of horse racing.
Balding twice trained horses that won the Grand National, which is widely considered to be the most prestigious horse racing event in the UK. His first victor in the Grand National was Highland Wedding, who ran to victory in 1969. Balding trained his second Grand National winner two decades later, when his horse Little Polvier came out victorious in 1989.
In addition to his famous triumphs at the Grand National, Balding was also famous for training Beech Road when he won the Champion Hurdle in 1989. Balding again had a horse win the Champion Hurdle, when he trained Morley Street before his 1991 victory. He also was widely praised for the job he did training Cool Ground on his way to a triumph in the Gold Cup in 1992.
Born in the United States in 1936, Balding moved with his family to the UK in 1945. He attended Marlborough College. In 1956, Balding began his legendary horse training career at the age of 19.
As well as being famous for his horse training prowess, Balding is also remembered for his instrumental role in shaping the careers of two legendary jockeys, Tony McCoy and Adrian Maguire. Balding gave both of these men their first jobs in the horse racing world, and both men credit his guidance as one of the key factors in making them the great jockeys they eventually became. Balding trained over 2,000 winners during his spectacular career. He finally bid goodbye to horse racing when he retired in 2004.
In recognition of his services to the world of horse racing, the queen awarded Balding an MBE in 2011. Balding will be greatly missed by many key figures in horse racing, including his niece Clare Balding, who is an anchor on BBC Sport.