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Andrew Balding powered up for new campaign with biggest-ever string

Beat The Bank: set to start season in Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes
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Southampton fan Andrew Balding says Leicester City have become his second-favourite football team after enjoying a wave of support from the owners of the 2016 Premier League champions that has seen his string grow to 185 horses.

Balding will start the new Flat turf season with his biggest team since he took over at Kingsclere from father Ian in 2003 where – alongside long-standing patrons who include the Queen, Jeff Smith and Qatar Racing – the Srivaddhanaprabha family's King Power Racing have 33 horses.

The details are disclosed in the 2018 edition of Horses In Training, which show for the fifth year Richard Hannon will have the largest published string in Britain.

Hannon's is one of four stables whose numbers exceed or equal 200 horses, the others being Mark Johnston, Roger Varian and Saeed Bin Suroor.

Roger Varian: will have more than 200 horses in training this year

Neither John Gosden (126) nor Richard Fahey (119) feature in this year's top ten list as they have declined to include their two-year-olds in the book.

King Power Racing was established last year, when six horses, including five Royal Ascot entries, were knocked down to representatives of Leicester chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha at the Goffs London Sale for £2 million.

Alongside Group 2 winner Beat The Bank, King Power Racing's numbers have swelled, with Balding training 20 of their two-year-olds, a number of which are prefixed 'Fox' after Leicester City, nicknamed the Foxes.

"We're all allowed to have a second team and Leicester are my second team now, obviously," said Balding, an avid Southampton fan whose team were beaten 4-1 at home by Leicester earlier this season.

"The likelihood is that Beat The Bank will probably start off in the Lockinge Stakes and we'll take it from there," said Balding.

"He's an exciting horse, and King Power have some very exciting young horses, as have many of my other owners. We're quite lucky to have a very nice intake this year."

Beat The Bank joined Balding after making a successful debut for Darren Bunyan at Dundalk in February last year, going on to win four of his next six starts, including the Group 2 Joel Stakes by five lengths, then was below his best when tenth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

Balding said: "We had concerns beforehand that it was a long time to keep him on the ball from when he won his maiden in Ireland to the end of the season. He didn't give his running that day and we put a line through that and will start again afresh this year.

"With a horse who wins a Group 2 by five lengths you're entitled to have Group 1 aspirations. He's a lovely horse to have in the yard. I think for the time being we'll stick to a mile."


UK FLAT STRINGS BY YEAR

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Richard Hannon         279 245 260 253 261
Mark Johnston 195 195 211 219 219 210 214 210 221
Roger Varian     152 155 174 178 199 199 200
Saeed Bin Suroor           148 168 190 200
William Haggas  110 129 130 143 161 172 183 201 189
Andrew Balding 136 147 167 173 177 181 179 159 185
Sir Michael Stoute 170 171 164 154 151 165 165 162 163
Charlie Appleby           199 125 160 160
Tim Easterby   124 127 140 124 125 125 162 157
Charlie Hills     131 138 151 178 162 165 155


UK 100+ JUMP TRAINERS

Dan Skelton 162
Paul Nicholls 156
Nicky Henderson 155
Alan King 153
Gary Moore 148
Neil Mulholland 146
Donald McCain 126
Nigel Twiston-Davies 120
Philip Hobbs 109
Colin Tizzard 106
Lucinda Russell 104

IRELAND 100+ STABLES

Gordon Elliott 212
Willie Mullins 179
Aidan O'Brien 178
Jessica Harrington 155
Dermot Weld 132
Jim Bolger 119
Noel Meade 119

FRANCE'S BIGGEST FLAT STRING

Jean-Claude Rouget 219

According to 2018 Horses In Training, published by Raceform 


Horses In Training 2018, produced by Raceform, will be published on Friday. Pre-order now here 

Horses In Training, published on Friday


 

We are all allowed to have a second team and Leicester are my second team now obviously
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