David Probert described Highland Knight as "the best horse" he's riddenPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Highland Knight scores for Balding in Germany
Report Germany, Thursday
Baden-Baden: Darley Oettingen-Rennen (Group 2) 3yo+, 1m
ANDREW BALDING is in unstoppable form and Jeff Smith's homebred Highland Knight continued the stable's hot streak by winning the Group 2 Oettingen-Rennen at Baden-Baden by a long-looking three and a half lengths on Thursday.
David Probert rode a perfect race on the winner, who was second favourite at 32-10, and the 23-year-old was able to celebrate his first Group race success.
Swedish hope Energia Dust broke fast and was the early leader, but Highland Knight, usually a front-runner, was always close up on his outside and Probert went for home as the field swung into the straight, grabbing the favoured outside rail.
Energia Dust tried to keep pace but soon dropped back and Highland Knight was never in any danger from the distance. It was left to Czech-trained Dux Scholar to chase the winner home, with French challenger Vagabond Shoes a never-dangerous third.
Amaron started favourite but never really got in to the race, running on late into fifth place. His jockey Davy Bonilla reported that he probably needed the race after 12 weeks off the track and would in any case prefer softer ground.
Andrew Balding said of the winner: "He has never stopped improving and this was his best performance yet. I have just been on the phone to Jeff Smith, who was hoping to watch the race in a Winchester betting shop but could not get a picture. He was over the moon when I told him the result! We were a bit worried when we saw all the winners coming up the stands rail, as Highland Knight hangs to his left, but he ran straight as a die today and Davy great him a great ride."
Probert said: "This must be the best horse I have ever ridden, he was terrific today and I never had a moment's worry."
Balding added that the winner could go next for the Shadwell Mile in Keeneland and then be aimed at the Godolphin Mile at Meydan in the spring.
Also on Thursday
Report: Germany, Thursday
Baden-Baden: Kronimus-Rennen (Listed) 2yo, 6f
A British success was also expected in the listed Kronimus-Rennen for two-year-olds, with Hugo Plamer's Tipping Over and Mick Channon's Talqaa sharing favouritism, but after disputing the lead a furlong from home, they were totally eclipsed in the final stages by Mario Hofer's two runners, with Zazera coming late up the stands rail under Olivier Peslier to win by one and a quarter lengths and the same. Tipping Over finished third and Talqaa fourth.
The British connections were not too downhearted. Hugo Palmer reported: "We came here to get some black type and succeeded in that. The way Tipping Over ran I think that she is possibly better over shorter."
David Probert, who rode Talqaa, said: "She ran well, but got a bit upset at the start because of the loose horse."