Peter Casey: Jack The Bus keeps life at the Palace ticking over nicely
Published 20/01/2012 | 05:00
Jack The Bus has had his tail stuck in the air ever since his win at Navan on Sunday. He may be after turning 12, but if you saw him out in the field all week, you'd think he was a two-year-old.
Although he has had leg problems, my eldest son, Francis, who runs the yard for me here in Tubbertown, is brilliant with horses like that.
Jack has never been abused or over-raced and every day he spends an hour in the spa that we have here. With a bit of luck, provided the ground is soft enough at Gowran Park next week, he should run a big race in the Goffs Thyestes Chase.
Seamus Murphy, who owns Jack, has been involved with me for years. As well as Jack, we bred the likes of Hello Bud and Palace Star, and we'll often share horses.
Owners like that are hard to come by at the moment. A few years ago, I had 80 horses here -- now I'd have less than half that and many of them are my own.
It's a sign of the times. When you see trainers like Willie Mullins and Noel Meade running horses in their own names, you know something is wrong.
Our place here is called Palace Farm, which I can assure you is an appropriate name. It's like a hotel for horses.
We have the spa, two gallops, 140 acres, and I have rubber matting on all the stable floors. Even at that, I still have shavings under the horses -- they are spoiled rotten.
With the way things are, we've had to turn our hand to farming in recent years, too. I have 142 sheep, all of which were scanned during a hectic few hours on Tuesday.
Francis oversees the sheep too, though my other two sons tend to shy away from that side of the job. All three help out here a few days a week, as does their sister Alison.
Oliver rides a bit on the Flat the whole time, while Peter still has the odd ride in bumpers. Francis rode in the pony races many moons ago with Pat Shanahan, but I could never stop him eating, so he operates from ground level only nowadays.
You would think one or two of them might have moved on by now, but I can't seem to get rid of them! Truth be told, they keep me going.
Like myself, they are all non-drinkers and we work hard to get the best out of what we have here. When a horse comes along like Flemenstar has for us this year, I suppose it makes it all worthwhile.
He is a finicky individual -- he has to have his own paddock, for example -- but he is learning. I was delighted with how he settled and battled at Naas and I just hope there is a nice cut in the ground for the Arkle Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday week.
He is the one horse in the yard that has been the subject of serious offers, but not enough to persuade his owner, Stephen Curran, to sell. That's a gamble he is willing to take, one that keeps me on my toes -- I honestly don't think I slept a wink before Naas.
We brought Flemenstar to Colin Magnier's gallop in Skryne on Wednesday. He was in great order, and will have the finishing touches applied on the Old Vic at The Curragh next week.
Long-term, we see him as more of a stayer. Depending on what happens, we could step him up in trip for the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse, although he will be entered for the Arkle and Jewson Novice Chases at Cheltenham in between.
In our minds, Cheltenham isn't on the agenda, but the entries have to be made next week. If somebody were to buy him, they might want to run him there, so we will put him in and I'd be inclined to think the Jewson would be his race if he were to travel.
Still, that's all for another day. The Irish Arkle is of far more pressing concern to us right now, as is the Thyestes. Sleep could be in short supply for a while yet.
- For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie