I have some news for you today:
In a few year’s time we will still be able to tell people we finished fourth in a Grade 2 chase.
Bay of Freedom came back safe and sound and ready to fight another day
Does he really want to fight? He was going well until his mistake five out, came back on the bridle pretty quickly and then made another mistake at the next and that was that. He wouldn’t have blown a candle out afterwards so you can’t help but wonder if he was looking after himself. As Kim said afterwards “he takes after me…it’s too late for today – I’ll just save myself for the next time”
Brian Hughes (jockey) pointed out that, in England, they start racing much further out and that is something that catches out a lot of Irish horses.
If I’m honest, there’s a part of me that wonders if he really takes the travelling and I do worry if it’s unnecessary stress for horse with a history of ulcers; it’s difficult to know after yesterday but there is a question mark and my view is that we should have as few imponderables as possible so we probably won’t be traveling out of Ireland next time.
The Racing Post analysis had this to say : Bay Of Freedom was already feeling the pinch before his mistake five out, and this proved a step too far. He too, however, doesn't appear that dreadfully treated for any switch to handicaps.
I probably shouldn’t complain because it might help to push his price out next time but , honestly, even with my biased eyes there was sign of any ‘pinch’ being felt before five out. On the contrary, I was starting to think we had a real chance at that point and that was backed up by Brian who felt the same way.
He didn’t jump as well yesterday as he has done and I am not sure why. I am attaching no blame to Brian in any way (although his confidence couldn’t have been helped by being turned over on a 1/16 shot in the prior race). Brian thought he jumped the ditches well (which a lot Irish horses don’t because there is an open ditch in front of the fence in England) but made mistakes at the wrong time. It’s frustrating because Kevin Sexton had built up a nice rapport with him before his ban and, with his next race likely to be back in Ireland, we’ll have another new jockey next time.
You always wonder with a new jockey how much homework they will do; particularly one as Brian Hughes who has 5-6 rides every day. On that basis it was great for Brian to say he had watched the two chase wins the previous night and had a good idea of how to ride him. Peter told him to stick to the outside and sit behind the likely leader; who we expected to be Present Man. In the event Brian did this for the first few fences but when Present Man started jumping out to his right then switched Bay of Freedom to the inside. The first thing Brian said when he got was that he had no choice and, in fairness, it was pretty obvious and he did exactly the right thing. You couldn’t help thinking though that his explanation was a pre-emptive attempt to avoid a ‘bollocking’ from Peter.
We earned 2000 euros for finishing fourth which will more than cover Trainer and Jockey percentages, riding fees, and travel costs (horse, trainer and groom).
Future race news
I asked Brian what he would suggest as his next race and he thought , perhaps, a novices handicap. The problem is that there is are only two novice handicaps in Ireland between now and the end of April and they are both 0-123 so we wouldn’t be eligible anyway with his rating (they are also too short at 2m and 2m 3f) So, basically, any novice handicap would mean coming back to England and even if we got comfortable with the travelling (questionable) we could still find ourselves giving lumps of weight away to unexposed ex-hurdlers and it just doesn't seem worth it
We will probably go to Naas at the end of January for a Grade 3 and then think about handicaps after that . It may not be ideal going for another Graded race but we want to give him another chance and with Naas being 20 miles away and the race seven weeks away we are taking some of the questions out of the scenario.
State of mind news
I was little disappointed yesterday and probably more so because he seemed to be going so well and then lost his place so quickly. I’m honestly not really sure what to think but there was enough hope to be gained from his first two chase wins that we have to give him another chance and then we can really find his level.
What that means is this: I can’t wait for Naas in January. At least I can’t be accused of not being positive.