Brilliant Bill scaring off opposition
Published 04/03/2011 | 05:00
I have been involved with horses for a long time, nearly 40 years, but I have never before had one as good as For Bill. She is a marvellous mare.
Following her triumph at Navan last Saturday, she has now won three bumpers, three hurdle races, three chases and two point-to-points.
For Bill is even scaring off the opposition at this stage. When she won previously at Thurles, she beat two of Willie Mullins' best mares. Morning Supreme was due to take us on again last Saturday, but Willie obviously realised it would be a futile exercise and he withdrew her that morning. Sure, you could hardly blame him!
That being said, I was never tempted to go to Cheltenham with For Bill this year. Cheltenham takes a lot out of a horse and there is another valuable mares' race at Limerick on Sunday week, so that's where we'll go.
The plan is to keep her in training next season. If that happens, we might go to Cheltenham then. In the meantime, we'll have to step out of mares' company some day soon, and we'll consider a race like the Irish Grand National when she does. Easter is late this year, though, so the worry would be the ground, as For Bill wants it soft. We'll just play it by ear, and we'll have to see what the handicapper does, too.
Being a native of Listowel, it has always been a dream of mine to win a Kerry National, but the timing of that race isn't ideal, either. For Bill will have been out to grass for the summer, and I don't know if it would be fair to bring her back for September. I'd be tempted, all the same.
For William, which Michael Hourigan used to train, was second in the race for me twice in the early '90s. I bought him from Tommy Lacy in Co Offaly, who had this Presenting mare entered at the sales at Goffs in 2007. When I saw she was related to For William, my interest was piqued, but she never went through the ring.
I rang Tommy to inquire and he told me that she had gone lame on the day, and the vets wouldn't allow her to go through. He told me to come up and have a look at her anyway, so off I went with my great friend, Jimmy Gordon from Churchtown.
Jimmy is the best judge of a horse in Europe, never mind Ireland. I bought the mare and called her after another old friend, Bill Murphy, an inspector with the Gardai here in Killarney who had just died. Every Bill in the country is backing her since.
I even met John B Keane's son Billy on the street one day and he thanked me for naming the mare after him. I hadn't it in me to disappoint him, so I didn't tell him the full truth. Besides, she isn't really my mare anymore; she's the whole of Co Kerry's.
Mick Winters and his team have done an incredible job with For Bill. He and his wife Pat are so thorough and Mikey Cronin, who looks after the mare, treats her like you would a child.
When she last ran at Navan two years ago, I made the headlines for my protracted journey to the races. Repairs were being made to the train track between Mallow and Thurles, so I had to get off at Mallow, get a bus to Thurles, before then boarding the train to Heuston again. My son picked me up in Dublin, and we got to the races just in time.
Saturday was more straightforward. I got the 7.45 train from Killarney, Jimmy Gordon jumped on at Mallow, and we were at Heuston in good time to meet my son. And being the man I am, I said I'd kill two birds with one stone. I'm a GAA man all my life, so I went to see Kerry play Dublin in Croke Park.
For more information on racing in
Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie