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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

'My main sensation was intense relief after Mill Reef's victory'

The Derby-winning former trainer names his five most memorable Epsom moments

Ian Balding: trained the legendary Mill Reef to win the Derby in 1971
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1965 First Derby runner (Silly Season)

This was the year of Sea-Bird, and Silly Season was our star in my first full season training. He had only just been beaten in the 2,000 Guineas and then he was my first runner in the Derby. I didn't really want to run him but Mr Mellon was keen so we ran, and he didn't get the trip but [stable jockey] Geoff Lewis rode a very sensible race and let him have an easy time. Thirteen days later he made all to win the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

1971 Mill Reef's Derby

Obviously Mill Reef's Derby win is my number one Epsom memory. We didn't know he'd stay – he wasn't bred to stay – and I was so, so disappointed when he was beaten by Brigadier Gerard in the Guineas, but Geoff Lewis told me not to worry. “We'll win the Derby,” he said. “That horse was staying on really well at the finish.” Geoff rode the perfect race and Mill Reef won comfortably in the end. There was a feeling of euphoria but to be perfectly honest my main sensation was one of intense relief.

1981 Glint Of Gold's second to Shergar

Shergar won easily of course but Glint Of Gold was second. John Matthias, who rode him, had been very unfortunate because he was nearly brought down early on and then came from a long way back. I can remember him being interviewed on TV afterwards and he said: “I was so excited – in fact, I thought I'd won because I never saw Shergar!” I thought that was very funny.

2000 Kingsclere finishes last in Sinndar's Derby

Kingsclere was a horse we had homebred and we sold him to Michael Tabor, who insisted we had Olivier Peslier ride him. Well, Peslier let him run away with him on the way to post and I was trying to call the starter to have him withdrawn but you couldn't do that in those days. I would have withdrawn him if I could – he was 16-1, he led and ran wide – and he just about managed to beat two streakers. He was tailed off.

The 'speechless' interview: tears all round for the Balding family as Clare interviews brother Andrew after Casual Look's Oaks triumph

2003 Casual Look wins the Oaks

That was Andrew's first season training – and we all dissolved into tears in the winner's enclosure when Clare was trying to interview us all. Andrew was in tears, I was in tears and Clare was in tears. I know she was worried that it was unprofessional but the only mistake she made was not to approach her mother in the first instance – as usual, Emma could probably have made more sense than the rest of us put together.

He was beaten by Brigadier Gerard in the Guineas but Geoff Lewis told me not to worry - 'we'll win the Derby,' he said

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