Steeplechase trainer Alicia Murphy of Parkton reminisces about Circuit Bar, a champion steeplechase horse by Mokhieba.
Tell us a little about Circuit Bar, his background, career highlights, etc.
I started training him when he was three. He wasn't too successful as a flat [race] horse. But as a steeplechaser, he was a phenomenal horse. He was the toughest horse I ever trained, very smart. Ran all his races at the front end. If broke at the front, he stayed in the front. Jockey Gregg Ryan rode him almost all of the time.
What was your most memorable race with Circuit Bar?
There are two! The Grand National in New Jersey would be one [the $100,000 Grand National Steeplechase at Far Hills, New Jersey]. He won and set a new course record during a downpour of rain. A challenge from another jockey, however, moved him down to third. [The official race records state that Circuit Bar "bore in sharply nearing the wire" and a steward's inquiry resulted in him being disqualified from first to third.]
The second was the steeplethon at Middleburg [the Alfred M. Hunt Steeplechase in 1996]. The hedges were so huge and the other horses were bobbing and hesitating. He just road down to them with no hesitation like a guided missile and won by 15 lengths. [A steeplethon is hybrid race that combines varied types of jumps, such as timber, hurdles and water. It requires a very versatile horse that can adjust to the different styles of jump needed.]
Have you worked with other Mokhieba offspring?
I worked with several other Mokhieba offspring. Most notable would be Crimson Tales. She had some soundness problems and was claimed as a broodmare by Lilith Boucher. She produced several top horses.
Do you feel Mokhieba had an impact on the steeplechase horse? A lasting impact if any?
He certainly did for me. There was a time when there were a couple other Mokhieba's out there. Janet Elliot had a great horse [by Mokhieba], Double Barrel. His impact on steeplechasing was a short one.