Well, the entries for the Champion Bumper are out and I am feeling a little deflated. My calculations, applying a complicated formula based on Timeform ratings, RPR ratings, the likely ground, trainer comments, political clout and how many horses Willie Mullins will mislay on his way to Cheltenham, reveal that Bay of Freedom is about six spots off getting a run; meaning 29-30 horses are rated higher than him which, as you may know, is 14-15 more than deserve to be! Sorry, I wasn’t supposed to say that but I’ve just bought a new laptop so I can keep blogging on my travels and I can’t seem to find the delete key!
We’ll obviously know more after the five day declarations but, right now, it looks like the final fate won’t be determined until 10am on the day before the race. I haven’t spoken to Peter about what we do in this scenario as I am trying to be positive but it needs thinking about. I guess we can decide next Thursday or Friday when I will be at the stables. I am guessing we will still travel across a couple of days early and keep our fingers crossed; that’s better than turning up at the ferry on Wednesday morning and asking for a day return to Holyhead.
I was contacted by two journalists this week: Racing FM interviewed me today for a piece on what its like being an owner in the lead up to Cheltenham. That will come out early next week and, in a similar vein, a fellow member of a racing forum reached out to me; he has been commissioned by the Irish Examiner to write four articles; the one on Bay of Freedom would focus on what its like being a small fish in a large ownership pond. I said we’re all equal in the parade ring; not a sentiment I will be expressing if we miss out by one and I have to watch eight Mullin’s horses parading before the race on the 11th!
I have enjoyed the camaraderie and support from the Talking Horses and Fat Jockey forums over the last few months. Everyone has a pseudonym and then have to explain who they really are when they send a private message; this was the case with An Capall (that’s his pseudonym you will be relieved to know) when he contacted me. I, being an international man of mystery and intrigue, am embarrassed to admit my forum name is pdleech; it’s Bayoffreedom on the Fat Jockey’s site so I am slowly getting the hang of this game!
Bay of Freedom will be at Leopardstown on Saturday for his final racecourse gallop before Cheltenham so if you’re there please let me know how he goes. I might have Peter invite the Irish handicapper so he can see Bay go through his paces; he and his UK counterpart have five days to get it right! No pressure guys!
I was planning to announce the winners of the inaugural Cheltenhamdream Racing Awards next week. However, because I may not be in the mood for celebration and/or it might sound like the ramblings of a bitter man, I have decided to announce these awards this week. (All awards are presented in genuine good humour and no offense is intended or should be taken)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the guests have been interviewed and photographed on the green grass and I ask them and you to please take your seats as your MCs for the night, Davy Russell and Jim Culloty, take the stage.
Ironically the first two awards go to the MCs themselves:
Jim won the ‘Person least likely to shake hands with a jockey in green and gold silks in the paddock’ Award; for this comment at a preview event:
“Carlingford Lough is a massive improver……We probably all know why but we won't say why. They placed him well we'll say'
Davy in his trademark timid and reticent style won the 'Jockey most likely to return his winning percentage' Award for these comments about the Triumph hurdle:
“Spend quality time with the missus when this race is on!” and “They’re all pigs – awful race”
Other awards were a little less predictable:
The Howard Hughes Bon Viveur Award
Winner: Tom Segal (Pricewise)
When asked where he watched the races from, said :
“To be honest I haven't been to Cheltenham for about ten years. I'm working for Channel 4 this year in the morning, but I don't think I'll be staying for the racing. So to answer the question I usually watch it from my bedroom”
Paul Carberry award for aggressive riding
Winner : P W Mullins
His motionless ride on An Dearg Mor in the Fairyhouse newcomer’s Bumper won by Golan Lodge …well until he actually saw the winner and then it was too late
The Donald Trump award for listening to people
Winner : Racing post Fairyhouse reporter
It must have been hard to understand Liz Doyle with her tongue so firmly in her cheek but he quoted her, after the same Fairyhouse Bumper won in a very slow time, as saying:
“Jamie rode him like the best horse in the race and he won like it”
Willie Mullins award for trying to talk your horse into the Cheltenham Bumper
Winner – Liz Doyle (see above)
Potential Runner up – Gordon Elliott for Jetstream Jack (if Anibale Fly doesn’t win easily on Sunday)
The Hurricane Fly/Faugheen decision making award
Based on this quote from the Waterford preview: "Stone Hard runs in the bumper. Cooper says they will let him run to keep Willie happy about the whole Don Poli situation"
The "Silk purse out of a sow's ear" award
Winner: Irishracing.com for this gem after De Name Escapes Me won a Clonmel Bumper:
"De Name Escapes Me's Inch PTP 7th place run in April 2014 was form that took a boost yesterday when 4th placed Double Shuffle scored at 50/1 at Doncaster" It should be noted that no other horse in that race has won since!
and finally, and definitely least:
Most creative, but least successful, subliminal messaging to handicapper award
Winner: Paul Leech for some website.
I was a little bit offended by this last one but when it's a fair ballot there's not much I can do about it!
I will be flying to Dublin on Tuesday evening and am planning to update the blog with daily entries as we approach the big day. Keep your fingers crossed he gets in or prepare to start following fairyhousedream.com or punchestowndream.com!