We’ll get to Mr Mullins plans for Punchestown later but, first, we need to talk about the Grand National and, in particular, Owega Star: I couldn’t believe how well he was going as they went out on the second circuit; jumping economically and , seemingly, just lobbing along. It was really exciting just watching it at home so I can only imagine how Peter, Ber and the owners were feeling. He was going every bit as well jumping Becher’s but, not helped by being baulked as the field had to bypass the Canal Turn, his stamina seemed to run out about a mile out. He still finished, ran a good race and is a horse to look forward to next year; a great candidate for the Topham over 1 ¾ miles less.
Peter was a little disappointed overall but the horse has come back sound and , all being well, will be running at Punchestown in a couple of weeks. He was delighted with Queen Alphabet in a later hurdle race – there could be good handicap in her on a flat track.
I thought Many Clouds put up a great performance off 11.9 (163 pounds). David (from Timeform) tweeted that, like Bay of Freedom, he had also finished 9th in the Champion Bumper:
@bayoffreedom Finishing 9th in the Champion Bumper - not a bad platform on which to build http://www.attheraces.com/form.aspx?raceid=682145&meetingid=&date=2012-03-14&ref=form&refsite=
and I responded:
@davidjohnsonTF and beaten exactly the same distance! Too much of a coincidence Then again, Many Clouds never won the Neptune :-)
Anyway, on to Punchestown. Willie Mullins looks to be sending a strong team and should have a great week. As regards the Champion Bumper he said he could have as many as six runners (do you have a sense of déjà vu yet?) which would pretty much rule out any likelihood of Katie being available to ride Bay of Freedom. Well, you would think, but we will still keep hoping. The forecast is pretty good for the next week or so and they have apparently started selective watering despite the ground being yielding (good to soft). I have every confidence it will be perfect racing ground come the festival; they protect the Festival track during the Winter and make sure they have fresh ground for this meeting. Every day they move the rails in for more fresh ground; to give you a sense the rails must move in around 20-25 yards between Tuesday and Saturday
Apparently, it’s not only Willie we need to worry about; his brother, Anthony is also a trainer and won a Fairyhouse bumper over Easter with a horse called Anibale Fly. [ Apologies - I somehow confused Anthony Mullins for Tony Martin; something neither trainer would be happy about] I thought the form was ok but was not prepared for the Irish Field article raving about him. Simon Rowlands was the author and he seemed to have caught that dreaded horse racing habit of making the facts fit your hypothesis; or, in this case, changing the facts. He focused on race times and made a big deal of saying how much faster Anibale Fly covered the two miles than the winners of two hurdle races earlier in the day (5 and 10 seconds faster) He conceded that they had to jump hurdles but said “ we have an allowance for that – it’s seven seconds” Really Simon? Would you like to reconsider that? Here’s the facts: Fairyhourse has standard times for each of its races and distances developed over years of comparing race times in all conditions and all levels of ability; for two mile hurdles the standard time is 4 minutes: 42 seconds and for Bumpers it is 4 minutes: 30 seconds. Now, and this is where my CFO background comes in useful, this would appear to be a twelve second difference..oh well!!
Simon then went on to say: “Anibale Fly’s closing sectional when winning previously at Navan had sectional timing fans purring” Unfortunately, there are no sectional times in bumper races so the few people who go to the trouble of hand timing the closing stages are the anoraks of racing; that’s not ‘purring’ you’re hearing Simon – it’s the sound of everyone else snoring!
April 15th is Tax return day in the US and I just about filed on time. I used some accountants for the first this year and we had some interesting conversations about ownership costs and if it could be an allowable deduction; if I could prove that I will make a profit in two out of every five years then it would be allowed. Obviously, this is very difficult to argue after just one year when my net loss was over $16000; the alternative is for it to be treated as a hobby and would not be deductibl
A quick aside; you can amortize a racehorse over 3 years; that is part of the annual expense.
I decided to turn to HRI (Horse Racing Ireland) literature for their support. This is what they say:
“…..owning a race horse is a hobby, not a business..”
Thanks very much HRI! However, not to be defeated, I dived deep into the IRS literature and learned that , provided you spend over 500 hours a year on a ‘business/hobby’ then any losses can be deducted. For me, this includes all travel, visits to the yard, conversations, race planning etc but, and here’s the kicker, all of the time spent on developing and maintaining this website and related social media. I can easily get to 500 hours and, as a result, this little old website will save me about $6000 in tax. So, if anyone thought this website was going to end anytime soon, you had better think again!
The declarations for the Champion Bumper are out on Thursday and I will provide my initial reactions just before I jet out for the a couple of days in England before flying to Ireland for the serious business the following week.