Au Revoir Bay of Freedom; welcome L'Autre Cheval

Yes, as many of you may have guessed, Bay of Freedom has been retired. He ran well for a mile at Wexford, jumped well and then made a mistake and that was it; tools down and dreaming of a life at pasture. After the race Peter and I discussed retirement options and we left it that he would stay at Peters at least until September and hopefully , by that time, we would have found a good home for him; a week later I got an email telling me he had moved to his new home and was enjoying life with somebody I had never heard of ..all of this and a video as well.

I am sure you have many questions so let me try and answer them:

1 Do you still own him, Paul?

I am not sure. No money has changed hands( and I don’t want any) and no paperwork has been signed so I am assuming he is still mine but on a permanent loan to the new owner (er…I mean guardian) Guardian??? Oh well…. You tell me what I should call them.

2 How exactly did Peter and Ber tell you about this news?

I received an email which said the following:

Hey Paul,

Bay of Freedom leaving his rivals in the dust

Please see attached clip of Bay enjoying his new home J

3 Were you surprised?

If it is was June 2013, I would have been shocked, Now, after six years of knowing Peter and Ber, this was almost predictable.

4. So, who is the new, er, guardian?

I will let Ber, in her subsequent email, answer that:

Pat Murphy manager of one of the Kildangan Studs was looking for an ex racehorse. We struck when the iron was hot as we can’t believe we have found him such a good home. All fingers are crossed that it will work out for them. His wife lives doing dressage are they are just the kindest people so hopefully we will be bringing you see him in his new surroundings in April, it’s only 20mins up the road

5. How far is it really?

Probably about an hour; everywhere is 20 minutes

6 Did you pretend to be pleased?

No – because I am pleased. I totally trust Peter and Ber to look after the horse and they know very well that I was insistent he never go back on a racecourse. He seems to have been found a great home and I look forward to traveling the 50 miles to see him when I am next over.

There you have it: Bay of Freedom is retired. I cannot put into words the joy he has brought me; we have had some great highs and some pretty low lows but the strange thing is the highs were off the charts and the lows didn’t even feel like lows. How many people are lucky enough to own a horse, how many people are so inspired that they write a blog about that horse and how many times does a crazy dream of going to the Cheltenham Festival come true? He has given me so much to enjoy and look forward to over the last six years and I am truly blessed to have owned him (and I may still own him)

So..what’s next? Well….it all started as a big mistake. Peter and I had spoken a few times about getting a horse to replace Bay of Freedom but I didn’t want to do anything with Bay of Freedom still running and I can’t afford two horses in training. 2020 seemed like a good year to get the next horse. That was the plan until July 2018 when I got a phone call from Peter. He was startlingly honest; he had bought a horse by mistake (bid on the wrong lot number…it happens) and had taken it home, liked it and then it occurred to him: ‘could this be Paul’s new horse?”

That is the official version and, to be perfectly, honest, is the one I prefer to Peter asking himself “ who is the biggest sucker I know?” I, however, was playing coy and said “let me look at the pedigree and I will take a look at him and decide when I come over in August”

Things looked good, as did the horse when I saw him. A three year old, strong looking gelding ,with one white sock. He did, however, have one major drawback: he already had a name: Friska De Thaix. Now he is French bred so that somewhat explains it and I absolutely hated the name. What does it mean? After much research the best I could come with was some young Swedish singer from the province of Thaix; meant nothing to me so I asked the question: “can I change his name?” “Yes, you can but it will have to be before he runs,,,oh, and it costs 620 Euros”

Being an accountant by profession, I was able to calculate the amortization of this sum over the likely 7 year career of “the horse still to be named” and figured that less than 2 Euros per week was good value to avoid me going insane calling him Friska De Thaix. That was the relatively easy part; particularly after my beautiful wife offered to pay for it for my birthday present (I have a big birthday this year). The difficult part was finding a name to make it worth spending 620 Euros.

All of this time, I had refused to use his ‘given’ name; instead calling him the French horse or , even, the other horse. This went on for so long that I actually got used to the name ‘The Other Horse” imagining the commentator saying “ jumping the last it’s Kemboy just leading from Lost in Translation with The Other Horse back in 3rd. It’s neck and neck with Kemboy just in front but Lost in Translation is not to be beaten and is battling back and . oh what’s happening here, The Other Horse is finishing like a train and the The Other Horse is getting there; The Other Horse wins the race. Incredible!!”

It was decided: The Other Horse was going to be the new name so, excitedly, I called Peter to relay the good news; that’s when things started to go wrong. “ No!! A million per cent no!! Paul – you can do better than that. No! No! No!. “

“Kim and I thought it was quite funny Peter “ I was already losing my resolve but Peter threw out a lifeline and said he would ask Ber before adding “ a million times no!”

I tried to convince myself that Peter had had a such a visceral reaction because he really liked the horse and didn’t want to saddle it with what he thought was a crap name- that was the best I could come up with.

A day later, we spoke and Ber apparently loved the name and had already checked to make sure it was available (it was). “So Peter” I asked “what do you think now then?” “It’s entirely your decision, Paul”

It still didn’t feel like Peter was entirely convinced so Kim and I got back to our horse-naming duties. We were going round in circles but then Kim came up with a simple but brilliant suggestion: “the horse is French so why not call it The Other Horse but in French?” Brilliant!! I was going to ask “so what would that make it then Kim?” but decided I wanted to live a little longer and delivered the answer myself; with much reliance on my limited French knowledge: “I am pretty sure it is L’autre Cheval but let me check” It was and it is and that is now the name of our new horse.

L’Autre Cheval is doing well and is a big strong horse who should be ready to make his debut in September/October and I will be seeing him in a couple of weeks time as he continues to build up his work. The dream continues but my new hope, hopefully conservative, is that he is half as good as Bay of Freedom could have been but twice as consistent. Whatever happens, we will have a lot more fun over the next 7 years; at least 620 Euros worth!!


I had intended to write this blog on April 7th as that was not only the 10 year anniversary of when Kim and I met but also the very day that Bay of Freedom was born….unfortunately our celebratory lunch went on too long! L’autre Cheval was born on 23rd May, 2015….let me go and check my diary.