Peter was continuing to be really high on the horse during the next three months (November to January) and had even, at one point, mentioned starting him off in a Bumper at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April. Now, at this point, I should mention my philosophy when dealing with Peter; it is what I call the Three Stages and works something like this:
The first time Peter says something I nod sagely, express my excitement or understanding as appropriate and then proceed to completely forget the conversation ever took place. This approach applies equally well to race planning as it does to him planning to phone with an update or send a contact name to me; far from irritating me this actually endears Peter (and I shouldn’t leave Ber out of this) to me even more. The reason for that is that I am definitely guilty of the same tendencies and have decided it is positive trait. I do have to confess that I sometimes forget to forget (if you know what I mean) and just before my frustration reaches boiling point I metaphorically slap myself across the face and force myself to recite Stage 1.
The second time Peter says something then we have to have a discussion: ‘do you really think he will be ready for Punchestown?” "Which race would you be looking at? The ground should suit him then don’t you think?" While the First Stage is the ‘forgetful’ stage, the Second is the ‘specific’ stage. At the end of this stage we will know if there is going to be Third stage or if we should just have stuck with the forgetful stage
If we ever get to Stage 3 then I become one of the most excited people you can ever meet; this stage means that we have a plan: it has not only been mentioned but it has been discussed, details have been ironed out and we are on a countdown. The only thing that can stop us now is....................well, it’s a lot of things. That’s the problem with owning a horse: you can never plan and if you do then you are just an optimistic fool. The only problem with that is the only reason you became an owner in the first place is because you’re an optimistic fool so you do what you have to do: which is to plan!
By February 2014 we were at Stage 2 ½ (don’t ask) with Peter still looking at Punchestown but also giving voice to concerns that Bay of Freedom was still a little immature and a bit ‘buzzy’; as a result he was thinking or running him in a maiden hurdle for his first run just to help settle him down and then, perhaps, look at a Bumper.
In the event, Bay of Freedom took a bit longer to come to hand fitness-wise but this actually gave him a bit of time to mature and by the time we were planning his first race (Stage 3) in June we had decided it would be a Bumper. It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. It really was an either/or decision between a Bumper or Hurdles for his first race but if we had gone down the hurdle route this website and my dreams would be very different; Bay of Freedom would not be eligible to run in the Cheltenham Bumper having run over hurdles. We came that close to going down a very different road; perhaps he is meant to go to Cheltenham!
Anyway, we’re definitely going to run in June, probably at Gowran Park. I say probably because i will be over for a week and there are a couple of alternative races and we would look at the weather before deciding. If you are being pedantic I guess it’s a Stage 2 ¾ but , for me, it is a Stage 3 plan all the way! Now we’ll see if he’s any good and Peter will have nowhere to hide!! Can’t wait until June.