When I first met Peter I went over what I was looking for in a horse: he would be jumping bred, unraced, good pedigree and likely to make into a chaser. I was in no rush and if it took a year to find this prototypical champion, that everyone else had strangely overlooked, then that was fine by me! The one thing that would have been a total red flag for me is if Peter had turned around and said “you might not believe this Paul but your timing is perfect; have I got the right horse for you?” to which the appropriate answer presumably would have been “ and am I not the right mug for you?”
As you are no doubt astute enough to appreciate, that conversation did not take place; no, Peter waited a good three weeks before mentioning that he knew of this Heron Island gelding that might just fit the bill; a 5 year-old out of Kate Gale who was unbroken (which is how Peter prefers them as he like to break horses himself). He was a half-brother to Western Gale who had won four races and had run well over 2-3 miles and over ground ranging from heavy to good/firm. My biggest reason to pause was that his form tended to plateau pretty early in his career and he wasn’t that progressive – that being said there was a lot to like.
Peter went down to look at the horse and take some photos. He felt that the horse was a really nice mover and one that he would really like in the yard; we agreed on a price and he went away to buy the horse.........well, that’s what I thought anyway.
One day later I assumed that the price wasn’t working and we were at an impasse; two days later I couldn’t understand why Peter hadn’t called and asked if I was prepared to go up in price. After three days I was convinced that someone else had bought the horse and after four days I was irritated that Peter couldn’t just call and tell me that it hadn’t worked out. On day five, after hearing nothing at all, I called Peter to see what had happened (I fondly imagined that Rich Ricci had outbid me 6:1 – more fool him in that case), The conversation went like this:
ME Hi Peter. Just wondering what happened with the Heron Island
PETER Hi Paul. He’s just grand. We’ve had in for a few nights now and he seems fine.
ME (incredulously) So we bought him?
PETER (laughing) Sure we did. He’s doing well.
ME (feeling naive) Oh – I had convinced myself he’d been sold to someone else
PETER Oh no – I bought him straight after we spoke
ME How much did we pay (why do I keep saying we??)
PETER Got him for 16000 Euro – hey look it, that’s a fair price I think for this horse.
This wasn’t to be the first or last time that no news is good news from the Fahey camp. But you’ve got to love them – Peter had met me for 90 minutes and we had spoken about four times since and here he was buying a horse for me on trust. Now I know the more cynical among us would say that he could have sold it on if I didn’t have him but for me it was a wonderful display of trust; the most important thing for me being 3000 miles away.
It also allowed me to teach my Financial Advisor a lesson. Now when I say Financial Adviser what I really mean is that he’s the person I have to ask for money when I need to transfer from my UBS account in Boston. Normally it’s not a problem but he was very reticent to send this c$21000 over to Ireland without making sure I wasn’t been conned
AL So who are you sending this money to?
It was the owner but I had forgotten his name so answered:
ME I’m not sure what his name is – I’ve got it on an email somewhere
AL Do you know him?
ME No – never met him. But the guy who’s going to train the horse knows him
AL Well – how well do you know him?
ME Er...well we’ve met once but it was 90 minutes and it went well
I then proceeded to tell Al the whole buying story and said “ look, trust is a two way street and if he can trust me I can trust him...and I need to if he’s going to train my horse”
Now I could plan my visit to see my future star!!!