Derby dream is still alive – I would love to win it for the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha whose death still shocks me
THIS can be a cruel time of year for trainers.
Dreams of a Derby winner can be snatched from you in a couple of minutes… but thanks to The Foxes, our Derby dream is still alive.
Richard Pelham / The SunSun Racing columnist Andrew Balding has his say on the week’s hot topics[/caption]
GettyThe Foxes won the Dante Stakes at York on Thursday[/caption]
More of him in a moment, because there is a slight gripe that I wanted to get off my chest.
I was up at York on Dante day but I’ve been watching a lot of the racing over the last couple of weeks on ITV.
The coverage is excellent, I think they’ve put together a good team and I think they are doing the industry proud.
But I can’t believe how unengaging the introduction music and opening titles are.
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Look at how other sports introduce their product, like in F1 when you’ve got that epic Fleetwood Mac rift from The Chain.
Meanwhile, we have a load of old people going to a theatre to watch War Horse…
We are trying to engage a new, younger audience and that opening sequence doesn’t do racing justice.
It’s only a small thing, but this is an exciting sport and we could do a better job of hooking the audience from the start.
But back to the racing, because The Foxes gave us a special day on the Knavesmire.
The Dante looked an especially strong race this year, there were a lot of lovely horses with big potential and the time of the race suggests that as well.
It was only half a second outside of Sea The Stars’ track record which takes some doing for three-year-old’s at this time of year.
He did meander across the track a bit which could have cost him but he was pretty strong at the end of the race which was very encouraging.
The one problem we have is that the race is a little closer to the Derby than usual. It’s two weeks today which is a quick enough turnaround.
He has come out of the race great, he lost eight kilos so with all those things taken into account we hope we can have him back at his best on Derby day.
It would give me a huge amount of pleasure if we were able to win the race for King Power Racing and the Srivaddhanaprabha family.
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They are proper horse people. Vichai used to play polo and Aiyawatt, or Top as we call him, is a very talented polo player.
Shortly after Leicester won the Premier League they were keen to get involved in racing and try to do something equally special in this sport.
We were very lucky that they chose us and they have been very good to me, they sponsor the yard and it’s an association we are very proud of.
It was utterly tragic when we lost Vichai in the helicopter crash, I can remember the moment we heard the news so clearly.
We had just got back from Doncaster where we had had a winner for him, we’d also had a winner for him at Newbury and his horse Fox Tal had finished third in a Group 1 in France, so they’d had a good day at the races.
The phone started buzzing at about nine o’clock at night and we were in total shock, it was one of those unbelievable things which still now is difficult to get your head around.
Vichai was a great man, very generous and larger than life.
An image of Vichai and Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha in a barn at Andrew Balding’s yard
We spent some time with him in Bangkok and he would come and visit his horses often – for all he was allergic to them!
It always slightly amused me, but he couldn’t help himself, he loved to pet the horses and feed them polos, all while his eyes and nose were streaming and this chap we called Gold, who sadly died in the crash as well, used to follow him around with tissues.
If Leicester can beat the drop and The Foxes wins the Derby it would be the double the family richly deserve.
It’s a big day at Newbury, which is our local track, and we run BERKSHIRE SHADOW in the Group 1 Lockinge.
He is a high-class horse and I honestly think he is overpriced. The only slight concern is whether he truly gets a mile. He is definitely a player for a place.
I’d say our best chance is OLD HARROVIAN in the Al Rayyan Stakes.
We are throwing him into the deep end, from a novice race at Wolverhampton into a Group race, but I think on his homework he is as good a four-year-old as we’ve got. My feeling is he could be anything.
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