Well..the pressure is really on now. We haven't got to Punchestown yet and plans are already underway for an assault on the Galway Festival in July. When I say plans, what I really mean is that there are a bunch of people dead keen to go to Ireland and who also want to humor me and watch Bay of Freedom run when they are there. We're not just talking about ordinary people here; oh no, we are talking about Kim's family: her parents, one of her brothers and his wife. In addition, friends of mine and Kim from Columbus are also planning to make the journey and they will be celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary so only add to the familial pressure. I will be spending the next four months educating people on how to plan a race schedule for a horse which goes like this: YOU CAN'T PLAN!
Yes I know everything worked out with our Cheltenham Dream but people (read family and friends) need to realize that we got lucky. We will plan for Galway but please , please, understand that there are more reasons than I can list as to why it may not happen. Aside from the obvious like ground conditions, injury etc there are few more obscure reasons why he (or us) might not be there. Here's the top 10:
1 Bay of Freedom decides he loves running on the flat and refuses to jump any hurdles.
2 He runs well at Punchestown and I am unable to resist the 1m Euro offer from JP McManus
3 I resist JP's offer but am now too poor to pay the entry and jockey fees for Galway.
4 The Galway By-pass plan is accelerated and the Festival is cancelled in 2015
5 The Galway By-pass plan is delayed and we listen to the race in a 20 mile traffic jam
6 We all get into the Galway spirit and forget to declare him
7 I am brought up on an assault charge after Brian, my brother-in-law, refers to him as Biscuit of the Bay one too many times
8 Kim's parents are still going around that roundabout at Dublin Airport
9 Jennie and Mark's marriage lasts for 24 years, 364 days
10 Ber can't find a suitable hat
As you can see it's way too premature to be talking about it so let me bring you up-to-date on the plans for this website and Punchestown.
I have decided to continue with the site and hope that it will not cause too much confusion for the next 11 months; there is absolutely no reason why we can't have a Cheltenham Dream for 2016. I also have the rights to the domain Bay of Freedom.com so will be setting that up (with the same content) over the next week or so. Simultaneously, I will update the front page of this site so it's a little more timely (and not out of date)
More exciting though is Punchestown. There are two potential races for him there: the Champion Bumper on the Wednesday or a 'Winners of 1' race on Thursday. I think both races will be very competitive so here are my thoughts:
I wouldn't be surprised if several horses (including the first three) from Cheltenham turn up in the Champion Bumper. On the face of it, we would have big task trying to turn the form around but, on the other hand, we are discontinuing the 'moving sideways at the start' tactic and will try to avoid Dessie saying "and Bay of Freedom is the back marker" From a financial perspective it's pretty expensive to enter the Champion Bumper: 900 Euros; which is basically twice what it cost to run at Cheltenham and there is only prize money for the first four. However, since when did financial common sense play any role in owning a race horse? I have convinced myself that the money he won at Listowel and Galway is just 'gravy' and it is available for wasting (I mean spending) on entry fees for Punchestown etc. He deserves to take his chance and enjoy his last Bumper.
It's even difficult to argue that the Winners of I race will be materially easier as it tends to attract some promising horses and Bay of Freedom would be carrying a 7 pound penalty for his win. There's no point in being a dreamer if you can't dream so 'in for a penny in for 900 Euros' it looks like the Champion Bumper for us. Of course, just watch him turn up in the Winners of I after the silky smooth Peter Fahey* has used his immense powers of persuasion on me; it will be just like Willie Mullins convincing Rich Ricci that Annie Power should definitely run in the 2014 World hurdle!
(* Although, to be clear, Peter seems all set on the Champion Bumper right now but he is the professional and will make the right decision)
I was so excited to book my flights and hotel that I stupidly described to Kim what a typical Punchestown day looks like. It was only when I realized that I had been unable to account for a yawning gap between 11am and the first race that I knew I was in deep trouble; the inevitable question came: is there any good shopping nearby? I came clean and admitted that the Kildare Outlet Village was but a few miles away; with that her eyes lit up and my credit card began to groan. It is in times of stress and desperation that we sometimes get inspiration and today was just such an example for me. Just as Kim was shouting out "Reiss, Mulberry, All Saints" I calmly told her that I was just too busy. Infuriated she asked why and I gave her the only answer that could possible placate her:
" I need to help Ber find a hat for Galway"
Sometimes I even surprise myself!