Toby Balding: Grand National-winning trainer dies aged 78

Toby Balding
Legendary trainer Toby Balding was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours list

Grand National-winning trainer Toby Balding has died at the age of 78.

Balding, the uncle of BBC presenter Clare, trained more than 2,000 winners and won all jump racing's biggest prizes, including two Grand Nationals.

He established the riding talents of AP McCoy and fellow jockey Adrian Maguire and retired in 2004.

McCoy said: "I cried when I heard the news my old boss and friend Toby Balding had died. We had great times together, he was my ultimate mentor."

Balding's daughter Serena Geake said: "He was a great man, who loved life, horses and people."

BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght:
"Toby Balding - Gerald Barnard actually, but always Toby - will be remembered as a towering figure in racing for half a century. "And not only did he pull off the rare feat of winning at least one running of all three of steeplechasing's 'holy trinity' of feature races - the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle - but he was also a notable mentor to young jockeys. "Though Adrian Maguire and AP McCoy stand out, there were many more and Balding delighted in their success, and was at the centre of the celebrations when McCoy reached the 4,000-winner mark at Towcester late last year."

Balding, who began training horses in 1956, enjoyed success both on the Flat and over jumps.

Over the jumps he trained National winners Highland Wedding in 1969 and Little Polveir 20 years later, won the Champion Hurdle with Beech Road in 1989 and Morley Street in 1991, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Cool Ground in 1992.

BBC presenter Clare Balding:
"He was so big and warm-hearted and kind and generous. He loved everybody and he loved life. The way he hugged you he really wanted to let you know he was thinking of you, to let you know he was pleased to see you. "He loved family occasions. We have a big family and he was the leader. "He was a genius with horses. You think of Highland Wedding and Little Polveir who won the Grand National but also Beech Road who was a tricky horse, and Morley Street, who was probably the best horse he ever trained. To win the Champion Hurdle with both of those as well, and the making of jockeys; he gave people a chance."Listen to Clare Balding tribute on BBC Radio 5 live

Balding, the older brother of Classic-winning trainer Ian and uncle of current trainer Andrew, was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours list for services to horse racing.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls said: "So sad to hear of the passing away of Toby Balding. Wonderful man who will be missed by so many. RIP."

Fellow trainer Jonjo O'Neill said: "Very saddened at the news of Toby Balding's passing. My thoughts are with his family."

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