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History Of Kimpton Down

Frank Hartigan

Frank Hartigan trained at nearby Weyhill from 1905 to 1952. By 1935, when he had his 1000th winner on the flat, he said he had won almost as many races under National Hunt rules, but he was not sure how many. There are no records of the final totals, but he had fewer runners in later years so maybe 2,500 in all were trained by him from Weyhill. It is said that the jumpers were trained on the Weyhill gallops, and Kimpton Down was used as a trial ground for the flat horses.

Their first major winner was Llangwm in 1908. He won the Victoria Cup off 7st 2lb and then ran 3rd in the Derby. That was followed by 2 wins at Royal Ascot. In all he won 7 races running after the Derby defeat, including the Champion Stakes and the important Prince Edward Handicap at Manchester. An odd season for a classic 3 year old, but the major handicaps then held more significance for the breed than they do nowadays. As the next really good one, Lord Rosebery’s Wrack, proved; he raced for 5 seasons between 1911 to 1915. In the end he won 10 flat races, 6 over hurdles and was also 2nd a total of 11 times. One of the best flat handicappers, he won 2 Newbury Spring Cups plus the Gloucester Hurdle. Indeed, he was only beaten once over hurdles and was the best hurdler of the day. Sold to the Hancocks at Claiborne in Kentucky, he became an important stallion getting several horses actually better than himself.

In 1915 Vaucluse won the 1000 Guineas, but was unplaced when hot favourite for the Oaks. In 1919 Roseway also won the 1000 Guineas, and like Vaucluse failed to add the Oaks at odds on, but was 2nd. Silvern was 2nd in the 1920 St Leger having won the Greenham and been 2nd in the Eclipse, at 4 he won the Coronation Cup. Two years later Craigangower was 3rd in the 1922 Derby.

The yard then tended more towards National Hunt. In 1930 Shaun Goilin won the Grand National and was 3rd two years later. However in 1935, Mesa, having been trained in France to win the 1000 Guineas, was sent to Weyhill to be trained for the Oaks. She should have won, but her jockey got her boxed in and she was only 3rd to Quashed at Epsom.

It was said of Hartigan that “His runners, when trained to the minute, still looked bright and bonny in a well-covered way.” Not a bad epitaph for a trainer.

Toby Balding

Toby Balding’s father Gerald then moved from Bishops Cannings on Frank Hartigan’s death. He trained mostly jumpers for the likes of Jock Whitney and Col. Bill Whitbread. He died five years later and Toby inherited the licence in 1957, aged 21. His younger brother Ian rode for him as an amateur whilst at University, before going to work at Kingsclere, and taking over from his father-in-law, Peter Hastings-Bass, in 1965.

Soon after taking over from his father, Toby moved to Fyfield (next to Kimpton). He kept the Weyhill training grounds until the A303 bypassed Andover in the early '80s, making the grass gallops defunct. But by that time a woodchip had been laid down on Kimpton Down, and this had become his workbench.

His best horses were jumpers; Highland Wedding (1969) and Little Polveir (1989) won the Grand National. Beech Road (1989) and Morley Street (1991) won the Champion Hurdle. His other top class jumpers included the enigmatic Kildimo, Decent Fellow, Neblin, Florida Sun, and Accipiter. Cool Ground won the 1992 Gold Cup during Toby's brief stint at Whitcombe in Dorset.

On the flat his best horses were mainly handicappers, New World won the 1959 Portland, and Green Ruby won both the Stewards Cup and Ayr Gold Cup in 1986. But Bomb Alaska, Palace Affair, Palace Street and Rivers Rhapsody were all stakes winners. 

The yard at Fyfield was sold for development and Toby moved into the purpose built Kimpton Down in late 2003, this included a synthetic surface oval with a short uphill spur.
Turbo was the first winner trained from Kimpton Down Stables, winning the 2003 November Handicap. Toby retired in 2004 having trained 2000 winners on the Flat and National Hunt.
Jonathan Geake took over from his father-in-law a year later, the best horse Jonathan trained was Ripples Maid the Listed winner.

Ralph Beckett

Ralph Beckett purchased Kimpton Down in late 2010, when his string and nearly all of the staff moved from Whitsbury. At the time of purchase, capacity was 72 boxes. But by extending one barn, and filling up space in both, capacity was increased to 105. The former office, and large entertainment room were converted into more accommodation, making room for 22 staff on-site, and a new office was put into the North Barn's gable end. Since the end of 2013 we have added 38 boxes to the yard, as well as a five-box isolation unit.

A lot of work was done on the gallops around the time of the move, including relaying the 'Hedge Gallop' (see the Facilities page). The turf gallops also needed a deal of attention, largely because of a serious rabbit problem, so 1 mile of rabbit proof fencing was added.

Since moving into Kimpton Down in December 2010, the total number of winners trained in the UK by Ralph, since starting in November 1999 had risen to 1034, by the end of 2019. These included the first classic winners trained at Kimpton; Talent in the 2013 Oaks and Simple Verse in the 2015 St. Leger.