Having got back from vacation on Saturday I was keen to speak to Peter and get his thoughts on Bay of Freedom running at Down Royal on Friday. I tried to be cool and waited until Monday before speaking to him which was really cool seeing as the entries were made while I was still in bed – that’s trust for you!
“All systems go” said Peter (Actually I’m not sure that’s exactly what he said and , come to think about it, it doesn’t sound like something he would say . What he probably said was “champion” and I interpreted it the way I chose ) Anyway, I had to make the decision of whether or not to travel and a cursory glance at the fares on Aer Lingus was causing me a headache: $1700 round trip in economy! I had to stay in Boston until Thursday so my trip was going to be a red-eye on Thursday and a Sunday return (it could have been Saturday but I need to rest my ageing body – oh, and it’s the FA Cup Final on Saturday as well) Obviously, if I was going to land at 5am on Friday morning having had no sleep I needed a hotel for Thursday night (so I could just collapse into bed) as well as Friday and Saturday. I couldn’t find a hotel for three nights so am now staying in Carrickmacross until Saturday and in Lucan on Saturday night. Right now, this trip is costing me $2100 and that doesn’t include the entry fees, horse transportation , jockey’s fees and anything I may choose to eat or drink…..let’s say $3000.
So how do I justify this to my long suffering and supportive wife?? Well I don’t – hence the title of this blog. Actually I am hoping to get this interim gig – well, I’ve already spent the first two weeks wages!
Bay of Freedom is well and I am ridiculously optimistic and positive about his chances tomorrow. I don’t know what’s got into me but I am really expecting him to run a big race. Ok, so it’s only two miles, we are giving weights away to most of the field, there are 19 runners and he has never jumped a hurdle in public but there’s no need to be negative; he’s good and tomorrow will show everybody! I really need a reality check and I am way too knowledgeable about racing to be spouting this nonsense but, try as I might, I can’t stop myself getting excited. It’s a funny thing: I was thinking earlier that it is almost a privilege to be able to feel this excited and , no matter what the outcome, I will have had an amazing 48 hours leading up to the race. I was going to say that you can’t buy that type of excitement but, I guess, I sort of am!
I’m very happy to have Luke Dempsey on board; Peter and I were discussing it last night and feel he and David Mullins are the two best conditional jockeys around. The reason we were discussing it so late (it was after 11pm in Ireland) was that the vast majority of jockeys still weren’t sure where they would be riding; although many top jockeys were planning to ride at Tramore. Luke was on top of our list but he’s attached to Gordon Elliott’s stables and Gordon wasn’t sure what his plans were. So here we were 11 hours before declaration time and 50% of the jockeys and trainers had no firm decisions/ideas for Friday night.
Luke claims a handy 5lbs allowance and I look forward to seeing his smiling face coming into the winner’s enclosure after race (Stop it Paul!!! Stop it!)
Let me close with a few of the racing press’s verdicts on the race (as at 1.30pm Boston time)
Let’s start with Timeform where something seems to be missing:
Verdict: NEW WORLD sets a pretty high standard on his 2 hurdle runs to date, and having gone well fresh in the past, he can get off the mark in this sphere at the third attempt. Cecil Corbett looks very interesting now starting out for Gordon Elliott, and any market move should be noted, while Our Sox can also go well now returning to hurdles.
Hmmm. What about the Sporting Life website:
BAY OF FREEDOM, an easy winner of a Galway bumper in October, has run in the championship events at Cheltenham and Punchestown this year and hasn't been disgraced in either. He's taken to defy a penalty and make a successful start over hurdles. Winning point-to-pointer Cecil Corbett has shown a bit of potential over timber though may need a longer trip. New World's close second in a big field at Cork in December would be good enough but he disappointed at Thurles a month later and the ground may be too fast for him. Scorpion Star found 2m6f much too far last time and is better judged on a much better effort over this trip at Fairyhouse.
And now Irishracing.com
Formscan By Thomas Weekes - BAY OF FREEDOM gives away a winners' penalty on his hurdles debut but does look the type to do well over hurdles. He was a capable bumper performer and ran with credit on his two latest Grade 1 starts. He is very likely to be well schooled and is further aided by his rider's useful 5lbs claim. New World has useful bits of bumper and hurdles form but is without a run since disappointing at Thurles in January. He has sound claims if returned to his best. Scorpion Star is absent since October and needs to improve to win while Our Sox, which won a bumper at this venue in the past, was beaten too far thus far on his three hurdle starts to attain a handicap mark and looks best watched.
BAY OF FREEDOM looked a useful prospect when winning a Galway bumper and then held his own well enough in the championship NH Flat events at Cheltenham and Punchestown. If he can run up to that level of form, he may need only to put in a clear round to score. The one to capitalise should the obstacles get in the way could be New World if he returns in the same sort of form that saw him go close at Cork in December. Cecil Corbett is interesting on his first outing for Gordon Elliott.
Not finally as it turns out (this blog is written in real time). The Racing Post has just come up with this:
Not many of these appeal as potential maiden winners, and this looks an ideal opportunity for BAY OF FREEDOM whose last two starts have been in the Grade 1 bumpers at Cheltenham and Punchestown. New World, with two hurdle runs under his belt, is the obvious alternative. Scorpion Star looks a clear third-best, though Cecil Corbett may improve on his first run for Gordon Elliott. [Alan Sweetman]
See! I am not completely delusional!
Right, let me cook some lunch for Kim before I disappear!