Carlisle, Monday, May 21st 2018, a day to remember for members of McGoldrick Racing as our 5yo Becky the Thatcher, AT THE SEVENTEENTH time of asking, proved she was more than capable of winning a race on the flat.
Prior to this long overdue success on the flat, loyal members had to endure FOUR frustrating 2nds, ONE 3rd, THREE 4ths and eight other attempts which are best not talked about.
But the penny eventually dropped for Micky Hammond, who despite his belief in Becky being a decent hurdling prospect, was still beating himself up because of his inability to find a flat race in which she would get her head in front.
After three successes over hurdles, us members were quite prepared to abandon the flat in favour of her burgeoning career down the NH route, but Micky was having none of it.
After a 56 day break due to a minor injury, Beckys return to racing was a 2ml 4f hurdle at Ayr on the 10th March 2018, and in the heavy going up there, she ran no sort of race, and was pulled up.
Heavy going was the prevailing weather forecast for quite some time afterwards, and by the time the weather improved, the flat season was about to commence on the turf, and Micky, who had always said Becky could win the Pontefract marathon scheduled for 23rd April `18, convinced us to have one more go in order to satisfy his obsessive determination to prove the point.
Beckys hurdling career was thus put on the back burner in preference to her fast approaching Pontefract target over a distance of almost 2ml 6f.
We all know the result……a fast finishing 2nd…beaten a head.
Could she have won ? Should she have won ? Opinions were mixed.
So close yet so far, yet the stats were NOW showing SIXTEEN races without a win.
Undeterred, our enthusiastic trainer, encouraged by Beckys Ponty performance found one more option at Carlisle on Monday 21st May over 2ml 1f.
PJ McDonald was this time shouldered with the reponsibility of making it 17th time lucky.
PJ said Becky had impressed him when he rode her earlier in her career, and was amazed she was still a maiden.
His success in the first race on the card was proof of his comment he was hoping for a good day.
At the off, I thought he`d missed the break, but not a bit of it.
PJ took a pull enabling him to get Becky on to the inside rail where, at the back of the field, he was content to sit with her all the way until the runners came out of the bottom of the hill.
True to say, such waiting tactics have rarely been employed by horses racing in the black and yellow, McGoldrick colours, either from Sues yard or Mickys, and as the horses began their long climb up the hill to the winning post, the sight of horse and jockey beginning to scythe their way through the field, still in cruise control, was an absolute joy to behold.
Yet still, the evil twin side of Richard was still thinking, she won`t go through with her effort and that`ll be 17 without a win now !
That negativity however disappeared in a flash as our Becky, thanks to a brilliant piece of riding from PJ drew clear, without even resource to the whip, to win by 5 lengths.
Happy faces all round, from not only members present, but especially Micky Hammond and assistant trainer Gemma Hogg, who were just as delighted as us guys were.
Such was the newsworthiness of this result, the RUK presenter Peter Naughton, insisted on a brief TV interview, during which myself plus retired master baker and fellow syndicate member Ged, gave a superb Chuckle Brothers like cameo performance for viewers, though we don`t expect it to go viral.
Now, a few days after the race, it is even more hard to believe that we had to wait from the 24th August 2015 to the 21st May 2018……almost three b….y years for this long overdue success on the flat.
Time now though to move on, and initial plans will be to stay on the flat for the next 5 / 6 weeks during which time we hope to find one or two races for Becky,,,maybe back to Ponty perhaps on the 11th June, after which, all being well, Becky will have a summer break before returning in October to continue her career as a young, still developing 5yo hurdler with loads of untapped potential over distances from 2ml 4f upwards to 3ml maybe.
The mouth waters with the prospect.