An All-Star dream for Balf

5 min read
Of all the potential fairytale stories out of the All-Star Mile, there are few which will be as emotional as an upset victory from Balf's Choice (Written Tycoon) at Flemington on Saturday for trainer Ryan Balfour and breeder Grant Kinter.

South Australian-based breeder Grant Kinter admits he owes a great deal to David Balfour, without whom he wouldn’t be a part of Saturday's inaugural race.

It was Balfour, the legendary South Australian jockey and trainer, who convinced Kinter in 2012 to buy a Celtic Swing (GB) mare called Not Jude's Choice in foal to Written Tycoon for $8000 rather than send his own mare to the Woodside Park stallion for nearly twice that amount.

"David had raced her and I think she might have won three or four races for him. She really badly injured her leg at one stage and he actually thought that she was going to be put down, but he said she was the toughest horse he ever had," Kinter told TDN AusNZ.

"I had one mare at home which I was just mucking around with and I decided to have a bit of a crack at breeding with her. David rang me up and said to me, 'Ryan's told me that you are thinking of getting another mare, this one has come up at the Inglis sales. I think you should have a look at it'."

"So I was keen on that and Dave organised it, he even paid for it for me on his account and I fixed him up. I got her and I sent her straight to Woodside and Balf's Choice was born over there before she went to Written Tycoon again. She came home and the rest is history."

"He said she was the toughest horse he ever had." - Grant Kinter

Needing a return on his investment, Kinter put the colt through the 2014 Magic millions Adelaide Yearling Sale as part of the Ducatoon Park draft. He fetched $20,000, but the breeder stayed in as a shareholder.

David Balfour

Six months later, David Balfour passed away at just 62 and Kinter wanted to honour the man who had reached out and helped him.

"Before he got to race, being that he was out of Not Jude's Choice and being it was David Balfour who had found her for me. I thought that was a good name," he said

"I emailed the connections and I asked Ryan as well as his Mum Robyn, for their permission. They were pretty keen, that's how he got his name."

Taking time

After a slow beginning - the horse was winless through his first nine starts - Balf's Choice broke through in a 2000m maiden at Mildura. It wasn't until he was a late 4-year-old that things clicked into gear as he won six races out of eight, culminating in the Listed Seymour Cup in October 2017.

Balf's Choice

"The family is like that, all the fillies and mares were small and didn’t seem to do a lot and all the geldings were quite large and gangly and took a while to fill out," he said.

"Ryan just kept saying, show a bit of patience. He's got something." - Grant Kinter

"Ryan just kept saying, show a bit of patience. He's got something. He's just a bit immature. That's probably a bit to do with the way I raise my horses."

A winner of $380,000 in prizemoney, Balf's Choice is now in the richest mile race on turf in the world thanks to the horse's popularity in his home state.

A radio campaign in Adelaide ensured Balf's Choice participation in the showpiece event, as he charged through late in the piece to finish with more votes than any other horse. And Kinter, Balfour and the other connections aren’t just there to collect the $90,000 cheque. They genuinely feel he can be competitive.

"I think he's going to run a much better race than what his odds suggest." - Grant Kinter

"If we look back, his best runs have been at the mile when he is up on the speed. With that little freshen up and being up on the speed on Saturday, I think he's going to run a much better race than what his odds suggest. I'm pretty confident he will be midfield at least," he said.

The dynasty continues

Not Jude's Choice still resides at Kinter's property near Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, but her progeny haven’t enjoyed the best of luck.

Balf's Choice's younger full sister Arani never made it to the track and will start her career as a broodmare this season, while the 3-year-old half-sister by Dalakhani (Ire) bowed a tendon and also won't make the track. The 2-year-old gelding by Stryker doesn't yet look like a racehorse, while last season's foal by Unencumbered died in a paddock accident.

Apart from Balf's Choice, the hopes of the Kinters are in the 4-year-old by Americain called Seattle Sound who won a 1600m maiden at Murray Bridge in January.

"I think we've got a nice stayer there." - Grant Kinter

"Tony McEvoy has got him and Tony really likes him, but he's a 4-year old and he still hasn’t matured," Kinter said. "He's just a big gangly type thing, got a lot of ability, but that's just the family."

"He's just a magnificent looking animal. He's just working out what he's got to do. I think we've got a nice stayer there."

Kinter said it was likely Not Jude's Choice and the other broodmare he currently has, Tee Rubble (Tayasu Tsuyoshi {Jpn}) would be retired this season, with Arani to keep the family going, with a trip to Americain, now at Daisy Hill, on the agenda.