The green socks, taxi to the course and all the other superstitions were proceed to be what they always were – completely stupid! He did run better than at Sligo but just wasn’t able to pick up when the pace increased. He did run on a bit at the end so we are increasingly convinced he wants further and/or softer ground to be effective. His starting price was 11/2 having been 14/1 in the morning; someone must have backed him – it certainly wasn’t me! Prize money was down to 5th place so no surprise he finished 6th! So what now? There are two opposing points of view and here they are:
The dream is over! Pretty much every other horse who ran in the Cheltenham bumper (including the 14 he beat) are rated at least 130 over hurdles – he is the outlier being rated 114 on Thursday and likely to be dropped a couple of pounds. At best he is an average handicapper; much better than the majority of horses but nothing like the horse we had hoped he might be. He’s pretty one paced, probably needs three miles and there aren’t many races for horses like him in Ireland.
On the other hand – could he be another Dubacilla? I am aware that Dubacilla was a mare but, that apart, is it possible he could leave his hurdles form behind over fences? Dubacilla ran between 1990-1995. She achieved (if that is the right word) a rating of 80 over hurdles and then went in novice handicap chases with an opening mark of 85. She proved a revelation over jumps and three years later was rated 163; this is pretty phenomenal and I, personally, cannot recall a horse which has improved so much for going over fences. It’s pretty obvious that, after 20 plus years, we are overdue for another horse to come along and leave his (it has to be a ‘he’ this time surely) hurdling form well behind – could that horse be Bay of Freedom?
I have said many times in this blog that Bay was bred to be a 3m plus chaser and so, dear reader,the dream must continues until ..well..until I’ve run out of excuses.
It’s a funny thing but it’s all pretty irrelevant in many ways. When we were going to the Cheltenham, Punchestown and Galway festivals it was fantastic and we had a lot of fun before, during and after. Since then he’s run at Down Royal, Roscommon, Wexford, Sligo and Bellewstown and has been both good and disappointing but this is what I have discovered: it doesn’t matter where he runs! I am as excited jumping on a plane to go to Wexford as I was going to Cheltenham; the nervous excitement is exactly the same at Roscommon as it was at Galway. It is a privilege to own a horse and that is the dream; anything Bay of Freedom actually achieves is the cream on that particular racing trifle.
The privilege of ownership struck me on Friday morning when, after very limited sleep in 48 hours and being only 15 minutes from Dublin airport, I had to convince myself that I should go down to the yard before my lunchtime flight; a round trip that takes around two hours and left me only about 45 minutes at the yard. There was never a question; how many people have the chance to even go to a racing yard? In any case, I wanted to go down to give a little cash to Gavin, his lad. I was never sure how much rate for tipping the guy who looks after your horse; for others who have asked or may be wondering please let me supply the definitive answers, straight from the lips of Mr Peter Fahey::”whatever you like”
So what’s next? We might go to Killarney on the 13th but only if it’s soft; that’s 2 ¾ miles and is a valuable hurdle. If not there, then other hurdling options are limited so his next race may be a beginner’s chase. He hasn’t been schooled yet but Peter is very confident that he will be absolutely fine and, as I may have mentioned, he is bred for it.
One thing is for sure: Peter’s horses are running really well and he had a double at Wexford last night. I wouldn’t be surprised if has another one over the weekend!