Why Far Hills?

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My dad’s first big horse Owhata Chief, winning the Samuel K. Martin in 1979. We called it Essex, it was a good meet, but far from the best meet. That would change.

My first race, Red Raven in 1983, winning and falling, the story of a jump jockey, he came back to win two more, a great pony who was all horse, the one who made me a jockey. A Thoroughbred twin beating Shetland ponies, probably not very fair, but it seemed right.

Abacus in 1991, when my family needed a boost. Six thousand bucks never seemed so big.

Rowdy Irishman in 1997, through the slog and mud. A horse who couldn’t go fast but couldn’t get tired. I can still see Bruce Haynes in all his glory. I took the train to Manhattan after the race, my worlds colliding.

Atomistic through the mud again, digging deep to win the New Jersey Hunt Cup in 1999, the last fence was nothing but splinters, he saw it and got there first.

My last fall, Indispensible, in 2000, right when I was trying to negotiate with the Gods to give me another season, pain-free, they handed down an unequivocal no, I’ve never felt so relieved and dismayed all at the same time.

Warm Spell, Good Night Shirt, McDynamo, Hirapour…seven years in a row McDynamo came and conquered.

Dictina’s Boy, once again, in the mud, coming through for Riverdee, our biggest day at the time.

The Grange, last year, opening the day with a win. I can still hear Bernie Dalton telling me to get ready to get my picture taken at Far Hills, when he was still on her back three weeks before. Then One Lucky Lady and Dawalan flying the Clancy Bloodstock banner. Riding to and from the races with my dad, reveling in the wins and drifting in the thoughts.

Just a few of the memories, a few of the reasons Far Hills gets my blood pumping.

It’s down to hours.