I was going to provide some colour commentary on the extra-curricular events in Galway but, given the events of the last couple of days, that will have to wait until Sunday’s blog.
However, before anything else, I do want to recognize that Wednesday was Kim’s birthday; we are separated by 3500 miles but our love is as strong as ever. Birthday gifts were exchanged before Galway; luckily not in anticipation of Bay of Freedom winning. Happy birthday Kim!!
Peter called yesterday; the chiropractor took a look at the horse on Wednesday and reported that he was stiff in his ribs on the right side and also that his sternum was out of alignment. Some horses can cope with this but others are impacted significantly. We are hoping that Bay of Freedom is in the latter category as it would explain his hesitancy at the hurdles and the strong tendency to jump to his left; no horse wants to cause itself pain.
I was just about to ask Peter the treatment options and how long he would be out for when, not for the first time, he left me speechless:
“ So Anthony fixed it and we’re all set for Monday”
“ What? Back the bus up! He’s fixed it; he’s all right?
It’s at times like this that I realize that I know nothing about horses. How can one guy move a horse’s sternum such that it is now in alignment? It’s incredible to me. Kid’s wear braces for two years to move their teeth a few millimetres and here we have a 160 pound guy moving the sternum of a half tonne horse in a matter of minutes!
Anyway, moving on….Peter said we are looking at Davy Russell for the jockey. We ended by saying that, while it didn’t look the strongest maiden ever, the important thing was to get him jumping and enjoying himself.
I think we’re both a little scarred (and scared) after the disappointment of Galway and it’s difficult to feel much confidence going into Roscommon; the danger is that we get too pessimistic and conservative and don’t just let things take their natural course. That was my thinking overnight and I determined to remind Peter how bullish he was before Galway and not to let that experience define how we regard the horse. Of course, all of the time, I am trying to convince myself that I am not being too optimistic but, you know, someone has to play that role.
So that’s what I was thinking last night and then I got a call from Peter this morning. I answered it thinking that it could only be bad news; did I get that one wrong?
“ Out on the gallops here and your fella is jumping superb; he’s like Istabraq”
Now, a couple of points to note;
1) I immediately assumed that he was referring to how Istabraq jumped at his peak and not that he was like the (now) 23 year-old and retired Istabraq
2) My confident interpretation was underpinned by a couple of adjectives that Peter inserted before “superb’ and ‘Istabraq’ in the above edited (and family friendly) version
This is only the second time in two years that Peter has called me from the gallops because he is so excited; needless to say, it made my morning. Apparently, Davy Russell had spoken to Peter last night and discussed riding him on Monday and had arranged to come down to the yard to school him.
In a strange way it seemed that Peter was experiencing a combination of relief and confusion; relief because he was showing some real jumping ability and galloping well, confusion because well…who is the real Bay of Freedom?
Peter called back after Davy got off to let me know what he thought. He was very happy with the horse and felt he was very brave; interesting comments given how careful/unhappy he had looked at Galway. He said he was disappointed not to have ridden him at Galway (he was claimed by Dermot Weld to ride his horse), had watched the race since and was shocked at how poorly Bay of Freedom ran. Davy will be riding him on Monday and Peter and I are both delighted that Davy now has confidence in the horse going into the race and that, hopefully, the horse has confidence in Davy; in my humble opinion, Davy’s quiet riding style and long rein will suit the horse.
Flights, car and hotel are all booked for Monday and it’s all systems go at this end. Peter offered to pick me up at the airport but I hate to inconvenience them so am going to be turning up in a Fiesta (or equivalent according to Budget)
Haven’t really looked closely at the race as yet but the two that would look strongest are Ultimate Horseman and Logical Song; wouldn’t it be nice if Davy Russell had an incentive to beat them both?