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Top racing personalties have paid tribute to Grand National-winning trainer Toby Balding following his death at the age of 78.

Balding was instrumental in shaping the early years of champion jockey Tony McCoy and trained two winners of the National at Aintree – Highland Wedding in 1969 and Little Polveir in 1989.

He also won the Champion Hurdle with Beech Road in 1989 and Morley Street in 1991, as well as the Gold Cup through the Maguire-ridden Cool Ground in 1992.

Brother of Mill Reef’s trainer Ian and uncle of current leading trainer Andrew and of presenter Clare, Balding retired from the training ranks in 2004.

Born in the United States in 1936, he was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2011 for services to horse racing.

“He was a great man, who loved life, horses and people,” his daughter Serena Geake told Press Association Sport.

McCoy said on Twitter he had lost his “ultimate mentor”.

“Tonight 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. RIP,” he said

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls also added his condolences on Twitter as did The Jockey Club which said: “Saddened to hear about Toby Balding, who holds a special place at the heart of the sport. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

 
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