This week in his second blog for thetote.com Darren Bunyan reflects on last week’s racing at home and abroad and updates us on all the latest from his yard.
Hope you’ve all had a good week and enjoyed the great programme of races we had both at home and abroad. It’s an exciting time of year as we increasingly see new stars of the future emerge in the two-year-old ranks, and the pecking order of the classic generation also becomes somewhat clearer.
We were at Leopardstown on Sunday for the debut of our two-year-old Hit The Bid. While he ran a bit green, as is the case for many on their debut, I was happy with him and he will improve significantly from that experience. We could see him line up Saturday week alongside Mister Trader in the Marble Hill Stakes (Listed) at the Curragh. It’s the first black type race for 2yo’s this season in Ireland and will tell us a lot about where we stand.
On Tuesday we were at Tipperary where we had High Speed and Lady Maesmor running. The ground softened significantly since the time of the declarations on Monday and was heavy by race time on Tuesday. Neither of our fillies were suited by the conditions but they returned home in good shape and I think they will both have their day.
It’s also been a week in which we’ve put a number of our late season two-year-olds out to grass for a break. These are types who are a little backward and will benefit immensely from a month or two of grass and relaxation. It does them the world of good both physically and mentally. We continue to keep them well fed during their break and I’ll very much look forward to them returning for runs during the closing months of the season. While there is always a temptation to keep them going now, I’m a big believer that you need to be patient and give the horses the time they require to develop. Thankfully, I have owners who also subscribe to this view!
With less horses to ride out each morning while the late season two-year-olds are on their break we have some additional bandwidth to get other jobs done around the yard, such as painting and steam cleaning. This is not just a cosmetic exercise. Keeping the stables fresh and clean is an important factor in ensuring that the horses are healthy. As a small stable we don’t have large numbers to fall back on if things go wrong with individual horses so we need to ensure we do everything possible to achieve a clear run with them.
One of my own favourite races is the Kentucky Derby, and this year’s “Run for the Roses” last Saturday didn’t disappoint. It’s a race I’d recommend including on the “To Do” list of any racing enthusiast. Also known in the US as “The Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sport” it has certainly captured the US public imagination with crowds regularly in excess of 160,000. To give that some context, the combined 7 days of the wonderful Galway Festival attract approx 150,000 in total each year.
I attended the 2006 Kentucky Derby in which the previously undefeated Barbaro romped home becoming the easiest winner since 1946. In an illustration of the ups and downs of racing his career would sadly be ended by injury in his next start in the Preakness. Hopefully this year’s decisive winner Nyquist, who finally got the recognition he deserves in his 8th win from 8 starts, will have better luck going forward. It will be interesting to see if the fast finishing runner up (Exaggerator) can sit a bit closer in next weekend’s Preakness and maybe give Nyquist a bit more to do. It’s certainly another race to savor.
While on the topic, closer to home I think the Irish Derby weekend at the Curragh (24th to 26th June) is also very much deserving of greater support. Paul Hensey and his team do a wonderful job there and in addition to it being a fantastic sporting and social occasion it provides 3 days of exciting and quality racing. I hope we might have a runner or two this year and some of our owners who live abroad have already indicated they are coming over for the racing experience regardless of whether we have any runners. Weather permitting, we’ll have the BBQ going at our stables which are only a mile from the course!
I’m expecting the coming week to be relatively quiet for us ahead of Hit The Bid and Mister Trader running during the Guineas Festival at the Curragh next weekend. Best of luck!
Remember you can read Darren’s thoughts every Friday for the duration of the Flat season on thetote.com