What a fantastic day! He won! He jumped well, had plenty more left in the tank and, 30 minutes after the race, to quote that wonderful Irish phrase “there wasn’t a bother on him”
The race went pretty much to plan. We wanted to have him fairly prominent and to have plenty of space so it was good to see him jump off on the outside. He jumped the first fence almost too well but then settled down to produce a pretty accomplished display of jumping. Kevin said he knew straightaway that he was enjoying himself and also was very happy on the ground adding that, if he goes so well on that ground, then he will act on any winter ground. There was a point as the runners were going out onto the final circuit that they all bunched up and Bay got shuffled back to about 5th place. This was my only real moment of concern as, convinced he doesn’t like other horses around him, I was concerned he might just sulk a bit. Not a chance, he was soon back into 2nd place and then ‘winged’ the next fence to consolidate his position. Coming around the final bend Kevin was so confident that he rose up in the saddle and looked between his legs for any dangers; a sure sign of confidence (sometimes over-confidence but confidence all the same). He got a bit tight to the last fence and lost momentum (Kevin’s fault as he acknowledged very quickly) but was soon back on terms and won going away with a ‘lot left in the tank.
Kevin gave him a great ride and has struck up a good relationship with the horse.
Now, it’s fair to say that there were several fallers in the race but, nonetheless, Kevin was always confident. He would have been more confident if he’d been aware of the ‘magic’ Kim was orchestrating in the Owners and Trainers Stand. Apparently, she was standing next to the owner of another horse in the race, Undressed. (That’s the horse’s name not Kim’s ‘déshabillé’) He seemed confident in running and, let’s say, not exactly scared of the Bay of Freedom. And then it happened: in a scene straight from New Orleans Kim bumped into him (she insisted accidentally), apologized but it was too late. The voodoo magic was in full flow and, within seconds, Undressed had fallen and was out of the race. I have been saying for some time that Kim is the secret weapon when he runs but this was taking it to a literal extreme. I can assure other owners that this will not become part of our race day regimen but, even so, if you do see Kim it may be an idea to give her a wide berth!
After the race, Kim led Bay of Freedom into the winner’s enclosure and caught the attention of the track announcer who asked her name and decided he wanted to interview her (after his obligatory interview with Peter). He always interviews the winning trainer but I had not heard him interview any owners so have to assume it was because Kim is beautiful. Anyway, he asks me to up to him (this was to make it look good) and then beckoned Kim. She didn’t want to go but really had no choice. Now, remember this interview is being broadcast across the racecourse. He asked me a question and I gave one of typical verbose answers which was scary because, such was the delay, as I was finishing the second half of the sentence the first half was being broadcast – there is nothing worse than hearing yourself speak! Next up was Kim and she was asked a routine question. However, nothing is routine when you’re an excited American owner and the interviewer has a very broad Irish accent. With a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look Kim just stared at the track announcer who was patiently waiting for an answer to his question; she had not understood a single word. She, very sensibly, decided that ‘pardon’ was not the best response so decided to say “we’re having an amazing time”. I have been telling everyone that what he actually asked was “what’s your name?” but, after panicking Kim, decided to admit that he actually asked something else and that her answer was actually in context (somehow)
The Listowel staff then invited us for a celebratory drink and, as we left the paddock, we were congratulated by Bill and Joan. Now, regular readers of this blog may never have heard of Bill and Joan and there is a good reason for that: we haven’t a clue who they are! Before racing, Kim and I had gone into the Owners and Trainers Bar for some alcoholic fortitude. We sat on a table of four with two spaces that were soon occupied by two people. We started a friendly conversation. They didn’t have a horse running that day (no idea how they got into the bar) and we told them about Bay of Freedom. A short conversation so we were surprised to see them at the paddock exit. So fulsome were their congratulations to such life long friends that the Listowel official invited them to join us for a drink to celebrate. Fully expecting them to respond “oh no..we couldn’t possibly do that..we only met them for two minutes” we were somewhat surprised when they led the way into the bar followed by the obvious question “and what are your names? I am Bill and this is Joan”
So what’s next? Well, first of all, we are heading back to Kildare and are going out with Peter and Ber this evening. Ber did volunteer to drive but, with the need to celebrate paramount, is now sensibly looking at local taxis. In terms of his next race, we are increasingly convinced he needs a gap between races andmore particularly, some time just doing nothing in a field so it’s going to be six weeks or so before he’s out again. In addition, the program for horses who have won a chase and who need around 3 miles is extremely limited so we will have to sit down and plan. There isn’t that much before the end of December which is very frustrating. However, I do have a couple of ideas that will be discussed with Peter early tonight (read: while still sober)
I will provide an update, headache permitting, tomorrow.