A few days before Christmas my phone buzzed with a text from Deva Racing notifying me that our horse Whiskey Chaser had been entered into a hurdle race at BANGOR-ON-DEE on the 22nd December. I was thrilled at the prospect of watching Frodo run at Bangor. Not only is it my favourite National Hunt course, but it also happens to be the closest.
New owners quickly learn that race entries are usually speculative, it’s not uncommon for a horse to be entered into multiple races in the same week. Trainers like to have a few alternatives ready should the going change, as the British weather has a habit of turning good ground into soft and heavy ground into a bottomless bog.
The downside of multiple entries is it can leave you facing the difficult task of trying to book time off work and make travel arrangements for races spread the length of the country. Your horse could well be entered in the three O’Clock at Newcastle on Monday and four fifteen at Ffos Las on Tuesday. Whilst these are definitely first world problems, it can make ownership less fun for those of us who aren’t time rich. It’s probably safe to say that you would need to be retired or semi-retired to have the flexibility needed to follow your horse to every racecourse.
As the day of the Bangor race drew closer I received more text alerts for entries at Huntingdon on the 26th and Wetherby on the 27th. Ultimately Whiskey Chaser declared for the race at Huntingdon on Boxing Day, a race which would be his first over steeplechase fences. Getting to Huntingdon the day after Christmas was a none starter for me, so once again I’d be watching Frodo’s progress via the streaming feed on the Paddy Power website.
My bet was restricted to an amount that showed faith but didn’t leave a Santa sized hole in my wallet.
The prospect of Frodo delivering a late Christmas present for me and the other syndicate members did cross my mind. However, My bet was restricted to an amount that showed faith but didn’t leave a Santa sized hole in my wallet. This was his first time over the bigger fences after all. Despite never finishing better than fourth, Whiskey Chaser is continually tipped up in the Guardian Newspaper. This probably explains the tiny odds available on him on the day – I’ll be purchasing one of those ‘The Guardian – Wrong About Everything. All The Time‘ t-shirts if they tip him again!
The early stages of the race went well for Frodo, as usual he was tracking the leaders and giving a good account of himself over the fences, making just one small mistake. As the race drew to a close his challenge weakened and he eventually came home last – his worst finish to date. No late Christmas present for the owners – but this was an important milestone in his career. Steeplechasing was always the goal for him and the owners and team believe he’ll improve greatly for the run and experience, but for now we’re still chasing the dream!