Andrew Balding hoping to give owners King Power first Group 1 winner with Beat The Bank in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

The Al Shaqab Lockinge with Ladies Day takes place on Saturday 18 May

Andrew Balding, trainer of Beat The Bank, is hoping he can provide owners, King Power Racing Co Ltd, with their first Group 1 winner in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday 18 May.  The handsome son of Paco Boy made a very impressive start to the season when winning the Group 2 bet365 Mile at Sandown Racecourse last month.  It was the five-year-old’s fourth Group 2 success in his career and his trainer believes he can make an impact when stepping up again to Group 1 level this month.

“He’s a wonderful horse to have in the yard.  He has won four Group 2’s now, a Group 3, and a Listed Race.  It would be lovely to win that illusive Group 1 with him.  He’s a very tough horse and he seems to be better than ever this Spring,” Andrew told Newbury Racecourse.

Reflecting back on his recent Group 2 success at Sandown, Andrew said: “We were hopeful. He is a bit funny as he doesn’t show his true colours here working on the all-weather surfaces. The minute though you get him on the grass he finds about ten lengths!

“He had done two bits of work on the grass which had been really exciting, so we were going there fairly hopeful. Silvestre gave him a lovely ride and things worked out well. It should put him spot on for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.”

Beat The Bank beat only two home in last year’s race, but Andrew is confident that we did not see his true colours that day, adding; “We went to the Al Shaqab Lockinge last year with the horses not running great.  He had been a bit slow to come to hand and it was his first run of the year. He ran no sort of race. This year we are going there with him in flying form.”

The horse has failed to make the frame at Group 1 level to date, but connections feel that he can secure a top-level prize this coming season when looking back at previous performances.

“He was probably unlucky in the Queen Anne last year,” said Andrew. “He wasn’t beaten very far, and he never really got a run.

He ran very well in the Qatar Sussex Stakes last year.  He looked like he was going to win a furlong out, then like he was going to be second with one hundred yards to run, and just slightly got swamped at the end.  Apart from those two runs, he just hasn’t performed for whatever reason, but I am sure he is going to have many more chances at Group 1 level.  I hope one day we will get it right.”

Based at the iconic Kingsclere Park House Stables, located near to Newbury Racecourse, Andrew’s father, Ian Balding, was a winning trainer of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes on three occasions. Andrew would love to secure his first win of the race and the first Group 1 winner for owners King Power.

“Newbury is obviously our local track.  My father was lucky enough to win the Al Shaqab Lockinge on a couple of occasions.  I remember, when I think it was a Group 2, him winning it with Selkirk in the 90’s with Ray Cochrane. It’s a great race and its Newbury’s premier race. It would be fantastic to win it as a local trainer.

“They [King Power] have invested a huge amount. They have been very supportive to me and the yard.  It would mean a lot to make sure I trained a Group 1 winner – before Richard Hannon did!”

The Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes run over a straight mile is worth an impressive £350,000 in prize money. Won by some great horses in the past including the legendary Frankel and Ribchester, last year’s winner Rhododendron was the first filly to win the race since 2004.

To book tickets for Al Shaqab Lockinge with Ladies Day on Saturday 18 May, click here.