· Lay, ‘Lady,’ Lay. She’s looking to follow in the footsteps of a filly, Sarah Lynx, who beat the boys in last year’s Pattison Canadian International, just the seventh filly/mare to have taken the Grade 1 turf classic (became turf race in 1958). And while she might appear to have her work cut out for her at first glance, never underestimate trainer Andrew Balding when it comes to Woodbine’s green scene.
· Three stakes wins, including the 2003 International with Phoenix Reach, coupled with nine top-four finishes from 12 stakes starts at Woodbine. It’s certainly no surprise that Balding has referred to the Toronto oval as a “happy hunting ground.”
· This year, his hopes rest on the hooves of Lay Time, a daughter of Galileo, who will look to hit astronomical heights with what would her biggest score to date. She will look to notch her first Grade 1 victory, having finished eighth and fifth in her only other two attempts.
· Lay Time comes into the International at a good time, having secured her first graded success, the Grade 3 Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor on August 25, and most recently, a runner-up effort, a head back of Black Spirit, in a Grade 3 event at Newbury.
· “We’ve always liked her, but I don’t feel she has reached her full potential as of yet,” said Balding, of the two-time winner from 10 starts, who also sports two seconds and one third. “She has performed extremely well in her past two starts and I believe she has the ability to be even better.”
· Lay Time launched her career in a Salisbury stake, a seven-furlong event contested on ‘good to firm’ turf, on September 2, 2010. Sent off at 16-1, the bay, in what would be her only start of the campaign, finished a respectable fifth, just 3 ½ lengths behind the winner, Shim Sham.
· Her next start, on July 30, 2011, saw marked improvement, resulting in a second-place finish, just a neck behind the winner in a seven-furlong race at Newmarket. After a fourth-place finish at Sandown Park one month later, Lay Time broke her maiden in her final start as a three-year-old, a 3 ½-length score on ‘good’ terrain at Sandown, in the Fortune Stakes.
· “She’s always been a pretty laid-back filly,” commented Balding. “She’s also an exceptional worker. I’ve always regarded her as a high-class filly and we’re hoping she comes up with a big performance on Sunday. She’s had Group 1 experience before. Her race at Goodwood in August (fifth, beaten 3 ½ lengths) was a solid effort.”
· It’s those past two performances, however, that have Balding hopeful of a positive outcome this weekend. He also wouldn’t mind at all to see the rains come. “I think some give to the ground would be ideal, really,” he noted. “Some rain certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for us.”
· “The one thing that you tend to think about when it comes to fillies is how they’ll fare in the fall,” said Balding. “Your hope is that they’ll thrive and not be over the top at this time of the year. She travelled well to Woodbine and seems to be doing quite well in her new surroundings. With a bit of luck, hopefully, we have a big day on Sunday.”
· Balding can be seen sporting a Pattison Canadian International hat on his website (www.kingsclere.com). He wouldn’t mind fashioning another winning look come this Sunday. “Woodbine has certainly been a happy hunting ground for us. We always get well-looked after every time we come.”
Owner – Mr. Robert Barnett
Robert Barnett was born in Northern Ireland. His family has been involved with horses for over 90 years. Lay Time is a descendant of Athasi, the first mare they owned.
Barnett, who still loves in Northern Ireland, in Cultra, near Belfast, is the Chairman of a family business that is involved in grain, feeding stuffs and molasses trading.
Currently, he is responsible for four horses in training, plus 17 mares and their yearlings and foals.
As for his Pattison starter, Barnett is looking for Lay Time to come up with her best performance to date. He’s also thrilled with the opportunity to revisit Canada.
“She was a late maturing type but has put up very good performances at Group level this year. We think the track will suit her provided it is not too firm. I have fond memories of Canada and am looking forward to coming back.”
Trainer – Andrew Balding
Andrew Balding became the licenced trainer at Kingsclere in January 2003 when he succeeded his father Ian, to whom he had been an assistant since 1999. Born in London in 1972, he hails from a family that is steeped in racing history. His great grandfather Aubrey Hastings was the trainer of no fewer than four Grand National winners, including Ascetic Silver, who he rode himself to win the great race in 1907. His grandfathers, Gerald Balding and Peter Hastings-Bass both trained with great success and as well as his father. His uncles Toby Balding and William Huntingdon have also enjoyed training winners at the highest level. His mother, Emma, has shown an exceptional eye for young talent, and has unearthed horses such as Tagula, Halmahera, Border Arrow, Phoenix Reach, Pentecost, Vanderlin, Dubaian Gift, Dubaian Duel and Nicobar; all were bought for under 40,000 guineas.
Growing up with his sister Clare at Kingsclere, both children were involved with horses from an early age. Balding attended Radley College before obtaining a degree at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester. He spent working holidays with trainers Nigel Twiston-Davies and Dan Hendricks in California.
In 1997, Balding joined the Yorkshire-based trainer Lynda Ramsden for two seasons. During this time he was closely associated with horses such as Nuclear Debate, Hawksley Hill, Bishops Court and Top Cees. The latter joined the Kingsclere team when Lynda Ramsden stopped training in 1998 and he returned home assist his father.
Top Cees overcame a serious injury and gained an emotional victory in the 1999 Cesarewitch at Newmarket. In 2001, Balding took complete charge of half of the Kingsclere Yard and prepared horses to run under his father’s licence; amongst the winners that he sent out from his yard were Firebreak (Mill Reef Stakes Group 2, Prix Cabourg Group 3), Pentecost (Britannia Stakes), Distant Prospect and Palua (first and second in the 2001 Cesarewitch).
His first winner as a trainer was a horse called Easter Ogil, who won at Lingfield Park on January 11, 2003.
One of his most significant triumphs came with Phoenix Reach, who took the 2003 running of the Pattison Canadian International, an achievement Balding lists amongst his most cherished victories. Phoenix Reach was retired to The National Stud at Newmarket in October 2006.
Since taking over the licence in 2003, Balding has trained the winners of over 550 races and £10.5-million in prize money, as of 2011. He has enjoyed Group 1 success in England, Dubai, Hong Kong and Canada. In 2005, he was awarded the International Trainer of the Year, at the HWPA Derby lunch.
Jockey – Jimmy Fortune
Born on June 14, 1972 in County Wexford, Ireland, Jimmy Fortune resides in Shalbourne, which is near Marlborough, Wiltshire, England.
He started his apprenticeship with Jim Bolger in Ireland before moving to England, joining Mike O'Neill and then Luca Cumani. He was licensed in 1987. His first winner came with Hitchinstown in 1988 at Thirsk. His first major success came when he took the Ayr Gold Cup in 1990 at age 16 aboard Joveworth.
In 1990, he won the apprentices' championship with 47 winners.
He moved north as a freelance rider and then joined the Lynda Ramsden stable, for which he rode until her retirement in 1998, when he was offered the job as retained jockey to Robert Sangster. The partnership was instantly successful as Commander Collins won the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.
In 1998, he rode 108 winners and finished fourth in the Jockeys' Championship.
Fortune was at Woodbine to ride in the Pattison Canadian International in 1999. He guided 16-1 shot Courteous to the front and he stayed on until deep stretch before giving way, grudgingly, to finish third.
Group 1 successes have come aboard Nannina (2005 Fillies' Mile and 2005 Coronation Stakes) and Court Masterpiece (2006 Sussex Stakes).
He continually suffered from back problems that culminated in 2003, when his back went into a paralyzing spasm as he passed the line in a race at The Curragh. He underwent surgery in South Africa to replace an inflamed disc with a device that offers vertebral support.
Lucarno, who contested the 2008 Pattison Canadian International, gave Fortune his first Classic winner in the St Leger, one year earlier. He was top jockey at Royal Ascot in 2007 with five winners.
Fortune rode Expresso Star to a win at the 2009 William Hill Lincoln Handicap, taking home the £125,000 first place prize. He was formerly stable jockey to trainer John Gosden, for whom he was aboard Rainbow View, Dar Re Mi, Virtual, Lucarno and Raven’s Pass for Group 1 wins from 2007-09.
He had 67 wins during the 2011 flat season, and has 55 so far this year.