Bay of Freedom is out tomorrow in a 3 mile Grade 3 chase at Naas; a really top-class race with five (of the 8) horses among the favourites for the four mile chase at Cheltenham. After his unspectacular performance at Doncaster, Bay of Freedom is not only not one of those five, he is priced at 28/1 by Paddy Power (for my American friends, he is an Irish Bookmaker not a cabbie). That may be a little harsh but I do think we have to be realistic and say he’s got his work cut out for him.
Anyway, I will get into all that in excruciating detail later but, for now, let me post a weather report: it is really cold with a wind chill well below freezing. I was forced to buy an Injured Jockey Fund beanie hat and was feeling a little embarrassed about my lack of sartorial style. That was until I remembered that Gordon Elliott wears one when he’s going out for the night, so that assuaged my guilt.
You may be wondering why I should use such a pretentious word like assuaged; well..get used to it! I am determined to resist getting ‘Trump vocabulary disease’ in which people exposed to his ignorance not only lose brain cells at an alarming rate but also see (hear?) their vocabulary revert to that of a sixth grader. It would be terrible, a disaster, a terrible disaster, the worst disaster you have ever heard if this happens to me, you know.
I have just noticed that Bay of Freedom has now gone out to 33/1; and I haven’t finished writing yet! Maybe I should just keep going and then he might be 100/1 by midnight. Do not fear, I have to watch Leicester crush Derby in the FA Cup tonight so this will finish very soon. Here is my horse by horse analysis which, I should warn you, may contain some alternative facts:
Bay of Freedom
He is top weight for a reason; the reason being we have somehow managed to win two chases and the others have only won one each (except for Arkwrisht who is the outsider and has won no races)
He seems well and fresh and had a few weeks out of training after his Doncaster run. He was a bit stiff and sore afterwards (for the first time really) but the seven week break has worked it’s magic and he’s ‘as right as rain’ now. The ground should be fine for him and the fact that were just 20 miles down the road from Naas will take any additional stress out of the equation for him. All week we have been wondering who would be available to ride him but, in the end, we have had a stroke of luck as Gordon Elliott took all of his entries out of the race. This meant that his stable jockey, Jack Kennedy, became available and he is truly the rising star on the Irish National Hunt scene. I have no idea when he last rode a 33/1 shot or when he will again so this will be a memorable race for him whatever happens. Jack’s got good hands and horses jump for him and, if he can get Bay of Freedom relaxed and enjoying himself anything is possible.
A Genie in Abottle
You may look at my spelling and be convinced I have misspelt the name, not so! In naming racehorses, you are only allowed 18 characters including spaces. Obviously, the owner wanted to call him A Genie in a Bottle but got to the final ‘e’ and thought s***! They then believed they had invented a new word: ‘abottle’ However, after being asked, Donald Trump confirmed it was, in fact, a real , a fantastic, an amazing word!
Anyway, this horse has decent form on the yielding ground (although would prefer it softer), definitely stays the three miles, is an effective front runner and jumps really well. If Bay of Freedom wasn’t running, the Leech ten’s would be going on this horse
He is the 3/1 favourite right now on the back of several decent performances earlier in the season. However, they were over much shorter distances and there is little.in his breeding to suggest he will improve for three miles. He ran over 3 miles at Kempton (in the UK) over the holidays but jumped poorly, never travelled and was pulled up. In the interesting and curious logic of racing reporters and tipsters, he has something to prove after his last appearance in England but is still favourite; Bay of Freedom also disappointed in England but that, apparently, is’ as good as he is”.
Even Donald Trump was mystified by the spelling of this one! I am really pleased he’s in the race as it means that Bay of Freedom is not the outsider. He has bits and pieces of form over hurdles that could see him surprise a few people but, on balance, his chase form is not particularly strong.
Balko Des Flos
I have never been convinced by this horse but have no particular reason for saying that. He won his last race very easily but the race fell apart and there were only three finishers with the second clearly needing his first outing of the season. He may well also prefer softer ground than it will be tomorrow and, for me, I have yet to be convinced he will stay a true run three miles. He also tends to be a front runner but there are a couple of others in that boat and they probably won’t want to take each other on around a stiff track like Naas.
In fairness, like many of the others, the balance of his form is better and more consistent than Bay of Freedom. I am picking holes to some extent but this is a Grade 3 so why not?
A horse that has always promised more than he’s delivered with the one exception of when he won the Cheltenham Bumper at 25/1. His initial hurdling form was strong but he has never really convinced over fences. That being said, he always suggests that if everything went perfectly he is fully capable of beating most horses. Maybe tomorrow is that day but, for me, there have been too many tomorrows to have the confidence it will be this tomorrow.
He seems a much better horse over fences and has run two very solid races and could well be the one to chase home the horse with 19 characters. My only slight reservation is the distance but, in every other respect, he should go really well.
He won the Albert Bartlett a couple of years ago and there are no stamina doubts. He is another who would prefer slightly softer ground but has to have a good chance; he would be my pick for third.
So there you have it: A Genie in Abottle from Haymount and Martello Tower. That is my objective judgement but, as always, we travel in hope. Put it like this: if Bay of Freedom races with the enthusiasm he showed at Wexford he could well surprise a few people.
More to follow tomorrow!