For the benefit of my American friends, Fairyhouse is, as the name would suggest, a magical, almost mythical place deep in the countryside, North of Dublin; known only to horse racing people. There is no such place as Fairyhouse; there is just a Fairyhouse Road (I imagine a bit like the Yellow Brick Road) leading to Fairyhouse Racecourse.
Well tomorrow, all roads lead to this wonderland as Bay of Freedom will be attempting to sprinkle some stardust when he races in the Rated chase at 3.50pm. Before that, however, we need a little more magic from a somewhat more powerful figure: a hard frost is forecast and we really need it to be an air frost and not a ground frost. There is a precautionary inspection at 7.30am so, by the time I’ve been up for four hours pacing the room, we should know if it’s on or not!
Strange term that: precautionary. The dictionary definition is: Precautionary actions are taken in order to prevent something dangerous or unpleasant. A use in a sentence would be: Many people have been stockpiling food as a precaution against shortages. So, if I understand this correctly, the enlightened people at Fairyhouse will be inspecting the course at 7.30am in order to prevent an overnight frost. That would truly be magical! Even then, not wishing to be critical or, indeed, a smart ass but, just to be on the safe side, shouldn’t they be preventing it, at say, 9pm tonight? I suspect the meaning of precautionary in Fairyhouse’s case is slightly different. Something like: We will let people know we are inspecting at 7.30am in order to prevent them being p****d and surprised when we call it off at 9am.
There are six runners in the race and it is pretty competitive. There will be plenty of pace with three confirmed front runners and all the other five horses are likely to run their race. In other words they are consistent or, more colloquially, you get “what it says on the tin”. That, unfortunately, is not the case with Bay of Freedom unless what it says on the tin is either “Contents Unknown” or “Squouateur” (a term used in racing meaning Ultimate Bankruptcy)
It looks like the favourite will be Call It Magic (of course, he would be) but I am most concerned about Drumacoo , named after a whimsical town in County Galway. On his best form, he has 10 pounds in hand of tomorrow’s opposition and I could see him winning easily. The form of his 4th in the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot in 2016 is, by far, the best piece of form on offer and a repetition of that would be good enough. However, he hasn’t raced over fences for almost two years and, when he did, he unseated his rider at the 3rd fence; demonstrating, as he had done previously, a tendency to ‘frog leap’ his fences in the early stages of a race. On balance, given that my current complete inability to analyse any race with accuracy shows no sign of dissipating, you can virtually discount Drumacoo.
Provided that racing does go ahead, underfoot conditions will be heavy which will suit Bay of Freedom. We are increasingly confident that a return to a right-handed course will not be problem and he seems well. If he comes through tomorrow in good shape we will be looking at the Midland’s Grand National at Uttoxeter for his next run. Once again, for my American friends, a quick explanation is necessary: Uttoxeter is in England (not Ireland), was my local course growing up but is, most certainly, anything but magical!
Finally, I must give a ‘shout out’ to my wonderful, long suffering wife, Kim. I told her yesterday that the forecast was not good and there was a realistic chance racing could be abandoned and that my trip could be wasted (obviously, I was already in Ireland when I imparted this news). Kim’s reaction was the stuff of dreams: “ it’s the chance you take..it hasn’t happened so far so you just have to accept it and be thankful you’ve been lucky up until now” and when I asked about the cost of my trip and the chance I had taken in going, she said “it’s only money and look at how upset you would be if they do race and you weren’t there”
It has only been in the last few hours that my initial euphoria and happiness at having such a wonderful wife and life has been a little deflated. I hope to be wrong, but the code breaking algorithms seem convinced that Kim is actually saying: “You owe me a new bag” For that reason alone, I hope racing is on tomorrow and when the tin is opened it says on the inside: Fairyhouse Winner!