It was all set up: Mary (who had joined our table in Owners and Trainers) had found a one Euro coin just before the first race and passed it to the person next to her for luck; that was Kim. Then Mary and her husband left and were replaced by the wife and daughter of the racecourse chairman: David Fitzmaurice. David came in and was a ball of energy. He shook our hands when he heard we were over from America, again when he knew we had a runner in the big race. He really shook our hands when he found out we had won at the meeting last year. In fact, he couldn’t stop shaking our hands; even when he bought me a drink. Overall, and you may not believe this, but I swear he shook my hand 13 times! It was amazing how this number 13 kept cropping up.
So onto the race: which started two minutes late. You may not think that is relevant but it turned out to be crucial. Anyway, let’s start in the parade ring:
Ber had texted Kevin the part of Tuesday blog that discussed his weight. At that time, he had just lost four pounds so he texted back there was just ½ pound to go so "no bother". He wandered into the parade ring, very light on his feet and took a somewhat circuitous route to where we were standing: no doubt in one final effort to show his fitness. He said “they’re going to go a savage pace” but the instructions were clear” go off with the leaders to the first fence and then just find your position but just be behind the leaders; nothings going to come from too far back in this ground”
Before Kevin came in Ber and I spent a few minutes trying to pick holes in the looks and condition of the other runners; to no avail. We did agree that Bay looked as well as he ever had. He’s a funny horse in some ways; you just can’t bully him and he needs to do things his own way. If you start fighting him or pulling too much at the reins he just won’t have it. When he got down to the start, he wasn’t ready to move to join the others and, this is where Kevin knows him so well and suits him, Kevin just waited for him and then he joined them, no problem.
The race went exactly as planned. He jumped off upsides and then settled in 5th or 6th positions; positions he held until the 3rd last when he jumped into the lead. He continued to lead until just before the 2nd last when he was joined by the ultimate winner and then it was a battle, with him eventually finishing 3rd beaten by a total of 1 ¼ lengths (about 10 feet). He was well clear of the 4th and it has to go down as a wonderful run. He was the last horse to come off the bridle (meaning that Kevin was the last jockey to have start really riding his horse vigorously) but just couldn’t quicken but still ran on well and wasn’t stopping at the line. There was a time just before the second last that it really looked like he was the most likely winner and my heart was beating pretty fast; but not as loud as my mouth was shouting. Put it like this: if anyone in the Owners and Trainers had wondered which horse I owned before the race, they certainly knew the answer by the time it finished.
Here's a report from the Irishracing.com site which includes a video of the last two fences. Click here
Kevin looked so disappointed on his return to the parade ring; he really thought he had it won. I think he gave the horse a wonderful ride. We would love to have waited a bit longer before taking the lead but, in those conditions and in a race like that, you can’t be holding the horse back and disappointing him at that stage of the race.
This is what the Racing Post said:
“Bay Of Freedom was produced here by Peter Fahey in tip-top shape and ran a fine race. He raced handily, jumped pretty well apart from one notable mistake four out, and was in front with the rail position turning in. He wasn't quick enough to take the winner any further but is a grand staying type and still an inexperienced chaser. There should be plenty more to come.”
“BAY OF FREEDOM (IRE) back over fences, stepped up markedly on his reappearance and resumed his progress in this sphere, giving best only on the run-in having gone through the race as if some way ahead of his current mark; in touch, travelled well (last off bridle), led approaching 3 out, headed 2 out, stuck to task.”
Giving him a rating of 138+ in the process (that’s pretty good)
However, some of my favorite comments where from a couple of horseracing forums I belong to; the people on there are incredibly supportive. Not only did I get loads of good wishes before the race but also the comments afterwards were incredible; they really understood the sense of excitement and what it all meant. Here’s a small selection:
Hell of a run BOF, one very proud owner I trust.
Interesting to know what your heart rate was rounding the turn...
Super run. I had such a buzz watching that so goodness knows what you were like BoF!
· Well done, Paul. It must have been a great feeling as you led them into the straight
As exciting as it gets; a great run by BOF and met Paul , as enthusiastic as you could wish for.
Plenty more to look forward to hopefully .
The last comment was from Eddie who was there and introduced himself to me before the race and then made the effort to be back at the parade ring after the race giving me the ‘thumbs up’ sign when the horse came back in. I truly appreciate all of the support.
We had an amazing day and Kim can’t believe how tired she is today. Normally, after a day at the races I would blame the fresh air but given we were inside for most of the day then it must have been the adrenalin (either that or the Captain and Cokes)
So..what’s next for Bay of Freedom? We’ll have to see what the handicapper does but he has shown that he belongs in this class of race and that opens up a few options. We will be at the stables tomorrow and have a longer discussion but, in the post race excitement, we talked about the Listed race at Wexford at the end of October (the race he won last year) It’s only open to horses who have not won over fences before May 1st, 2016 so it’s the last year he can run in it and the course and timing seem to work. After that we could look at the Paddy Power at Leopardstown at the Holidays. There’s also the Troytown at Navan in late November but the timing will not allow us to do all three so we will sort it all out.
Oh and in case you’re wondering (or, indeed, paying attention) if the race had started 30 seconds earlier it would have finished at exactly 4.13pm and there’s no doubt in my mind we would have won!