Andrew Balding was delighted to see Josh Bryan rewarded for his hard work with the biggest victory of his career on Johnny Drama in the John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday.
Bryan is one of many riders who have honed their trade as apprentices at the Balding stable over the years, including William Buick, David Probert and champion jockey Oisin Murphy.
The 21-year-old has been at Kingsclere for five years and this could be Bryan’s breakthrough season.
He rode out his claim in March and has now made the most of his chance on the big stage, with an accomplished display on Johnny Drama for his boss in one of the most competitive handicaps in the calendar.
Though Bryan regularly partners Johnny Drama at home, he was only taking the mount on the six-year-old gelding for the second time in public since the horse joined the Balding yard from Ger Lyons’ Irish stable two years ago.
“I was really pleased. Josh rides the horse a lot at home and he puts in a lot of work behind the scenes with other horses, so it was nice to give him the opportunity of a decent winner and he gave him a great ride,’’ said Balding.
“He’s been with us a while now. He’s a very capable rider and I’m pleased he got his opportunity.’’
Balding reports Johnny Drama to have taken the race well, but where he runs next will be dictated by the handicapper.
“Johnny Drama is fine. Obviously we’ll see what his handicap (mark) is on Tuesday. That will dictate what we do with him,’’ he said. “It was a good, tough performance having been off the track a while. It was a good effort.’’
Dreams Of Thunder can today light up Beverley in the opening division of the Racing TV EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.
Robert Cowell’s juvenile ran with plenty of promise on her Windsor debut late last month, finishing with purpose and leaving the impression she is sure to have learned a lot from her initial experience.
The form of her half-length third of six reads well too, with winner Canonized already twice previously successful.
William Haggas’s Cheveley Park Stud filly had to battle for her head victory that day, from a runner-up who is also a two-time winner and was subsequently plunged into Group Two company at Newmarket.
It was eyecatching in those circumstances both that Dreams Of Thunder, an expensive breeze-up purchase, was well-supported in the market and then ran with such credit.
She was held up, with an eye surely on the future as well as the present, and this looks an ideal opportunity for her to demonstrate the benefit.
From a stable especially adept with its sprinters, she again receives plenty of weight from a dual winner here and has had an appropriate short break to help her progress from debut.
The card begins over the same minimum trip, with top-weight Rose Bandit on the hat-trick trail in the Taff Sarginson Memorial Handicap.
Iain Jardine’s filly runs under a penalty for her latest success, at Ayr eight days ago, and appears to have fine prospects of making it three wins in as many weeks as she ventures out of Scotland for the first time since joining her Dumfries yard this season.
She started from a lowly base when winning a Hamilton seller last month but was then emphatic last time too indicating she could well be capable of continuing her rise through modest ranks.
Princely can again lord it over his rivals in the opening Read Hollie Doyle’s Column On attheraces.com Handicap at Bath.
Still an entire at six, Princely scored only his third career success on stable debut for Roger Teal at Chepstow last month.
He did so from some exposed opponents, and is not guaranteed to hold his form long - with a track record for excelling when fresh. Nonetheless, he is up only 31b, was a course winner last summer and is sure to appreciate the forecast sound surface.