Still scratching our heads....

The most frustrating thing about owning a racehorse is explaining to everyone why he ran so badly when you have no idea yourself. This time around I thought he jumped well enough but he just wasn’t able to get out of 2nd gear; Davy Russell said he was the first one beaten and, given that, he actually did well to finish 4th.

Davy said a few other things: “there’s something wrong with him”  “he was wobbling on the run in and when being led in” and also that he would have fallen at the last if he had asked him for a big leap – he was out on his feet. We had him scoped after the race by the local (30 euros in case you’re wondering) and there was no blood or mucus. The plan is not to feed him until after he has a full endoscopy at lunchtime today (you need that 24 hour starvation period and he probably wouldn’t have eaten up after the race anyway so this is a good chance). If that turns out to be negative we will send him to a different vet (one of the most respected in Ireland) so we can get another pair of eyes looking at him.

He certainly had a bigger ‘blow’ than after the Galway race but that, then again, he didn’t really have a race at Galway. It’s very disconcerting but we will keep working and will figure it out. The other thing that Davy said was “ he ran like a really slow horse but he isn’t a slow horse – I don’t know what to tell you” If you look at his first three bumper runs up to and including Cheltenham there is no way he can be classified as slow; certainly not as slow as he has looked in his last three runs. For whatever reason he just can’t pick up the pace when it increases and there is no reason that he shouldn’t if he was well. We couldn’t check his heart fully last night but Peter was pretty satisfied that there wasn’t an issue with it. It seems perverse to want to find something wrong with him but it’s for the best; something is bothering him and we need to sort it out for his sake.

Peter is probably going to enter him in a handicap soon and we will see what rating he gets. Honestly, this was not the original plan and the rating he will get will probably be lowest ofany horse who finished in the top 10 in the Cheltenham bumper in the last 5 years; based on his performances it would be difficult to envisage a rating above 110 and it could well be much closer to 100.  I almost feel sorry for the handicapper who will really be scratching his head almost as much as Peter and I. The last time Peter spoke to him was to encourage him to lobby his English counterpart to argue that Bay of Freedom’s form entitled him to be rated high enough for the Cheltenham Bumper; now he’s going to have to give a really low rating. Six months is a long time in horse racing! 

The irony is that if the horse was well we could not have planned (or plotted) for him to run badly enough to secure the rating he’s going to end up with now. Of course, it’s all pretty academic right now; he won’t be running anywhere until we feel confident we have figured out (and put right) what is wrong. There’s no point in running as he won’t win any race the way he is running.

Funnily enough, we thought our luck was in before the race. As we were saddling the horse (I say we because I was holding his head) we led him around for one final time and rechecked the girths; the breast girth snapped! Gavin raced off to get a replacement from Davy who wondered audibly if we trying to kill him (it would have been the only way as Bay of Freedom’s speed certainly wouldn’t have done! ) Anyway, panic over we thought our luck might be in; well..for a few minutes anyway.

I will post an update later after we have some initial results. In the meantime I am flying back to Birmingham and then am up to York with some friends to watch some really fast horses run.