Every owner has that horse is full of frustratingly bad luck. For me, until last Tuesday that horse was Munaajaat.
When I had the opportunity to buy into a well-bred filly in Ireland, I jumped at the chance. She is by one of my favorite sires in the evergreen Tamayuz and I’ve always wanted to own a racehorse in Europe. When they topped off the deal by saying she was going to rising star Joseph O’Brien, I couldn’t pay quick enough.
“Muna” has given us some exciting days in the year we’ve owned her but has also been full of bad luck. The racing gods are often not on her side, be it a near impossible draw or getting cut off at a crucial moment in the race. We came extremely close to getting a win with her multiple times but it never came for us … until she returned to England last week.
Ironically, this was a reversal of her previous luck because only a few weeks before she’d knocked herself in the stable and it didn’t look like she’d be ready to race before heading to the breeding shed.
When Syndicate Racing’s Jack Cantillion and O’Brien came up with the idea of running her at Kempton last week, I won’t lie – I was a bit skeptical we’d have different luck. We’ve already extended her career a few times and this was looking like our last go with her before she heads to the breeding shed. While the field looked to fit her perfectly, it was a long ship to just run into more bad luck.
She drew a great draw for pretty much the first time since we’d bought her and it seemed luck had finally turned our way. Even feeling fairly confident, I was still on the edge of my seat when she broke out of the gate. The early running of the 1 3/8-mile race was likely boring for anyone watching me but once they entered the stretch, I probably could have sold a video of me cheering to America’s Funniest Videos.
I’ve cheered horses home in the past but I’m not sure I’ve ever cheered them home as enthusiastically as Muna. There were a few seconds where I thought it’d be another case of the filly not being able to get herself to the lead but once jockey Ben Curtis piloted her to the outside, the race was over. Muna looked like she put less effort into going to the lead than I did in cheering with both my voice and hand hurting from cheering her home so enthusiastically.
I’ve had a lot of equine highlights in my life – including getting my first two steeplechasing wins with Orchestra Leader last year – but Muna’s victory is near the top of the highlights list. In addition to being my first flat racing winner, Munaajaat has had a lot against her this year and if any horse deserves a win, it was her.
As a journalist my job is to stay as unbiased as possible, but I won’t lie that I am thrilled that Muna was able to show the talent we all knew she had. Even better is that we may have one more start with her Friday to hopefully add another high mark to an exciting ride that has properly hooked me on racehorse ownership.