Bay of Freedom is back and bidding to follow up his Wexford win at Sligo tomorrow; he will win! Well, that’s how I feel now, at the start of this blog, but that may all change by the time I get to the end . I am developing the Peter Fahey syndrome whereby my level of confidence is inversely related to the proximity of the race; the closer it is to the race, the less confident I am. This is something Peter is well known for, so why I chose to call him today (as opposed to , say, Wednesday) is a mystery to me. You may be wondering why I have to limit my phone calls but the answer to that reveals another factor for tomorrow’s race; I am actually on vacation in Mauritius with Kim and tomorrow will be the first time that I will not have seen Bay of Freedom race in person.
We have been married for five years and two days and it was a pretty easy call to decide that it makes more sense to try and catch a replay or listen to a commentary (like the good old days) rather than have lingering thoughts of actually trying to be in Sligo. However, that crazy idea was muted by Kim; I could fly to Ireland tonight , drive to Sligo, watch the race and then fly back on Tuesday landing at 11am Wednesday local time in Mauritius. Kim said : “why don’t you do it – I feel bad that you can’t be there” I said “why should you feel bad? Peter chose the race – blame him!” She responded with “I think you should go” and, , for a minute there, I almost fell into the trap but I caught myself in time and now can look forward to the next five years of our wonderful marriage!
Kim does have a point in one respect: why do I go to these amazing tropical places and then stay in the shade when I get there? Well, I don’t like the sun and it doesn’t like me. That’s ok, but I still need to go to breakfast and the gym and it’s too hot not to wear shorts and t-shirts – so, what’s the problem? Well, normally, my white legs could blind someone at a thousand paces (even if they’re wearing sunglasses) so I am ‘forced’ to have a spray tan before leaving on vacation out of concern and respect for my fellow holidaymakers. Even that is not the problem – the problem is that I am the only person in the resort who finishes their vacation paler than when they started – probably explains why the staff are always asking if I’m feeling well.
Anyway, let’s get back on track (so to speak). Bay of Freedom came out of Wexford in great form and has actually put some weight on and Peter has been delighted with him ever since – we think he’s improved a good bit since that race (if he wins tomorrow, and the handicapper’s reading, then about 2 pounds to be precise!) He’s always been a good-looking horse but don’t take my word for it: he was working up at the Curragh during the Punchestown festival. Barry Geraghty, Noel Fehily were there as was Nicky Henderson; for the uninitiated (or any Americans) the first two are top jockeys and the latter is a top UK trainer. Anyway, Henderson was watching a few horses walk around and , pointing at Bay, asked “who’s that fine looking horse?” He got his answer and that answer was firmly hammered home when we worked much better than the horses he had brought over and was considering buying.
The race tomorrow looks pretty interesting: only the six runners but they all won their last hurdle race so it should be competitive. I would say I am cautiously optimistic and am hopeful of a good performance (the Fahey syndrome is kicking in). When the entries came out on Wednesday I sent Peter an email with my thoughts on the other 13 entries; this is what I wrote about the five that are still left:
Well behind Notwhatiam at Limerick over this distance but improved for better ground over 3 miles at Cork. Those behind had shown little form previously.
Won a Balinrobe maiden (2m 5f) easily – but only 6 runner and a very poor race. Decent 2nd previously at Fairyhouse beaten 2 3/4l by horse who finished 4t in Punchestown handicap of 118 (beaten 6 1/2l). Ran over fences last time (2nd) – interesting if he turns up.
Finally won his maiden at Kilbeggan last week but handicap mark before that of 111 probably a fair reflection. However, seemed to improve for better ground but no certainty he will get that next week
On a good run of form (won last two) and seems suited by decent ground (which he may not get). Also, has done all his running at 2 miles and, with other frontrunners likely, may struggle to stay on softer ground. Additionally, would have to give us 7 pounds.
Not What I Am
Looked to have made massive improvement in a 2m 5f Limerick maiden on heavy. Second won by 20 lengths over 3 miles on good ground at Cork next time out. Not sure what to make of the Limerick form but , on balance, don’t read too much into it. As good as the 2nd was next time out, the 3rd horse (beaten 9 lengths) finished 38 lengths behind M M D Sizer next time – form that would give him no chance. Seems like a typical Limerick strange result.
My thoughts haven’t really changed in the last five days. The ground is not as soft as I expected (it is yielding at the moment) so it should suit most of the horses. I would expect NotWhatIAm or Lofgren to make the running and we would lie close to the pace. Kevin Sexton rides Bay of Freedom again (after his win at Wexford) and I wouldn’t expect him ot make his move until just before the last. The finish is uphill and that should suit us pretty well. Incidentally, Kevin has ridden Bay of Freedom a few times since Wexford and was taken aback by how much he ‘had come on’ after the run.
I am hopeful but will leave the last words to Mr. Fahey “we should finish in the first six!”
Will update tomorrow evening!