Making his long-awaited first start in Europe, Rod Moorhead’s Baltimore Bucko was beaten just two lengths in Tuesday’s Rated Novice Hurdle for four-year-olds and up at Limerick Racecourse in Patrickswell, Ireland.
“A very gallant third,” was how the track announcer described Baltimore Bucko’s performance under regular rider Gerard Galligan. Galligan kept the Jonathan Sheppard-trainee close up throughout the 2-mile contest, running second (of eight) toward the inside for much of the going. In fact, Baltimore Bucko actually took the lead at the second to last fence, and dug in gamely as he was overtaken late by No Grey Area’s and Blanketontheground. The finish might have been ever closer had the horse not lost momentum when he landed steep over the final jump. The course was rated “heavy,” a term used to describe the wettest and softest going.
Following the race, Keri Brion, who is overseeing the Sheppard string in Ireland, was elated with Baltimore Bucko’s effort.
“I was so happy with him. Luckily, they had moved the inside rail so we had fresh ground as the first race. It was still heavy ground, but what a lot of people don’t understand is that it’s safe ground here. They have to go slower so they can finish with the soft ground, but the ground is not false like it can get in America when we have a lot of rain.
“We have been training them for stamina the past five weeks and have been continuously happy with how he trains over the deep sand and on the beach — which is very heavy ground. He did not disappoint today at all. It was a huge run and proves we belong here. He’ll get an official rating off of today and we’ll have a plan going forward then. I just want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Moorhead for being on board for this venture it’s very exciting.”
Like at many tracks in the States, fans are not allowed to attend the races at Limerick and much of Europe due to Covid-19, and only one trainer and one groom are permitted to accompany the horse to and from the course.
You can watch a replay of the race via this link to Limerick: https://www.limerickraces.ie/horse-racing-fixtures-limerick/. Scroll to the first race on Dec. 29, which has a post time of 11:55:00.