Andrew Balding reflects upon Royal Ascot 2021 with high hopes for 2022
Esteemed Betway ambassador and multiple group 1 and class winning flat trainer, Andrew Balding, has reflected upon his incredible week at Royal Ascot in 2021 whilst eagerly awaiting the 2022 event. He said “I think for any flat trainer in England, certainly, it is the most important meeting of the year” describing the event as “the flagship meeting of the season”. Royal Ascot, the major calendar event at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, is normally attended by the Queen each year. The 2022 event takes place between Tuesday 14th June to Saturday 18th June, and will includes famous races The Gold Cup and the Coronation Stakes as well as the Diamond Jubilee stakes.
Royal Ascot, founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, has become as famous for it’s dress code as it is for the actual races. Anna-Lisa Balding, who married Andrew in 2005, likened Royal Ascot to the likes of Wimbledon the Champion’s league final – describing it as “just amazing”. In 2019, there was just over £7.3 million prize money, making it the richest race in the world. This year sees a prize money of £8.6 million
During his interview with Betway Insider, Balding remarked “it’s the focal point of what we try to achieve. It means everything” explaining “from 2 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon to 6 o’clock on a Saturday evening, and everything in between, puts tremendous stress and pressure on you over the five day period”.
Balding is confident that they have a strong team going forward this year but questions exactly how many favourites they will have this year, feeling there may be only the one, which shows just how tough this race is.
Balding declared “it would be amazing to have a royal winner” expressing how it is a “great privilege for anyone lucky enough to train for the Queen”. Anna-Lisa is hopeful that King’s Lynn, owned by the Queen, will have a better year than in 2021, stating “King’s Lynn is King’s Lynn, a very special horse” . The team are hopeful that he will have a better year than he did at last year’s event, where he came in third in the Wokingham Stakes with Jockey Ryan Moore.
Balding felt that King’s Lynn was unlucky in the race last year explaining “there are some split moment decisions that a jockey’s got to make at 45 miles an hour – do I go left, do I go right? It didn’t happen for him. We learned something from that, this year he’s a year older, a year stronger”.
Hopeful that this year they would be able to make up for it, Balding is confident that King’s Lynn is on a par with the cream of the crop of European Sprinters, stating “he’s right up there with the best of them”. However, he added “it’s really up to the jockeys and the gods as to how you get on” and, disappointingly, in the King’s Stakes on 16th June, 5 year old King’s Lynn, coming in 7th place ridden by Jockey David Probert.
Nonetheless, Balding has already had a 14/1 winner when Coltrane won the Ascot Stakes and he has four fancies for Friday 17th June: Iat 16/1 who worked well last week and is a ‘very likeable horse’; Fivethousandtoone 18/1 who is highly rated and works to a high standard; Alcohol Free 10/1 who has been ‘in great form’ of late; Alounak 33/1 who ran extremely well last season at Hardwick.