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‘My kids are as likely to avail of a third-level education as I am a Leap Cord’

Ross O'Carroll-Kelly: Everyone keeps asking what happened to Hoss O'Carroll-Kelly at Leopardstown?

Everyone keeps asking me what happened – as in, what happened to the famous Hoss O'Carroll-Kelly, who led the Blackrock College mount, Orthurian Fame, by 10 lengths in the Corncrake Hurdle at Leopardstown on Stephen Zuzz Day and yet somehow failed to win?

The answer is simple – we were cheated.

And before solicitors stort getting involved, let me state for the record that the Blackrock goys had nothing to do with the actual cheating.

No, it's a far more sordid story than that, full of lies, deceit and being stabbed in the back by one – actually, three – of our own.


The day storted off so full of promise. After his disastrous maiden race at Punchestown, Hoss was an unfancied 7-to-1 outsider for Leopardstown, with most of the smort money going on – like I said – Orthurian Fame.

But Ronan assured me and the goys that the horse was absolutely flying it in, I don't know, training and that his fall at the last fence in Punchestown was - in Ronan's own words – "a wooden-off".

Hoss landed – like I said – 10 lengths clear. And that's when everything went into slow motion

He went, “Ine tedding you, feddas, he’s moving like a bleaten Ferrari, so he is. I’d thrun a few bob on him meself if I had it.”

I was like, “So you’re saying you think he has a definite chance of winning.”

And he was there, “He’s got mower than a bleaten chaddence, Rosser. This is a horse that’ll do athin you ted him to do. He’ll rudden all day long - and he’s jumping like a thream, so he is.”

So, on that basis alone, I stuck twenty Ks on him, thinking (a) fock it, it’s Christmas and (b) fock it, it’s Brian, Johnny and Leo’s college fund, which - let’s be honest – I seriously doubt they’re ever going to need, what with them taking after me in the whole lack of brains deportment.

Christian, Oisinn, JP and Fionn bet big on him as well – to the point where, 20 minutes before the race actually storted, we’d managed to shorten his odds down to 5-to-2.

So we were all standing at the rail, waiting for the race to stort when I suddenly heard the old man calling me. He was going, “Kicker! Kicker! Over here!” and I spotted him and Hennessy, dressed up like a pair of tools in their matching camel hair coats and hats.

“Good luck!” he went, raising his hip flask to me in a sort of, like, toast.

And then – yeah, no – the horses were suddenly off!


You don’t need to know anything about the actual race, other than the fact that Hoss O’Carroll-Kelly led from the stort, absolutely destroying the field, just like Ronan said he would, while jumping over fences like yours truly trying to escape the wrath of an angry husband.

You could see the Blackrock goys looking already deflated, their famous horse having clearly met his match at last. Even their chants of, “Your dads work for our dads! Your dads work for our dads!” had a suddenly hollow ring to them.

Hoss cleared the final fence, while me and the other members of Castlerock College syndicate storted high-fiving and chest-bumping each other, just feeling that the occasion called for it.

Hoss landed – like I said – 10 lengths clear. And that's when everything went into slow motion. Well, he certainly did. Because his legs suddenly seemed to go – as in, he didn't look to have any strength left in them?

And then, all of a sudden, the rest of the field closed the distance between him and them, led by – who else? – Orthurian Fame. He breezed past Hoss like a Beamer undertaking a Seat Ibiza insisting on doing 30 in the fast lane – although without the obligatory raised middle finger out the window.

I stood outside, listening, wondering should I push the door? Or were there things going on behind it that I possibly didn't even want to know about?

Hoss finished – I s**t you not – last and we were suddenly ripping up our dockets and throwing them on the ground.

Oisinn was the one who dared to say what was on the minds of one or two others. He went, “We should have maybe hired a professional jockey.”

And I was like, "It's not Ronan's fault," actually defending him? "You're bang out of order, Dude."

Anyway, we’d all calmed down by the time we hit the bor. I’d lost another twenty Ks on the horse. But – like I said – my kids are as thick as s**t and about as likely to avail of a third level education as I am to avail of a Leap Cord.

We were standing around, drowning our sorrows, trying to decide what to do next. One or two of us were in favour of cutting our losses and selling the animal to someone else – maybe even Cistercian Roscrea, if not to race, then for their boarders to eat.

Handing over fifties

In the end, we decided to keep going. Cheltenham was always the eventual goal. It hurt, though, especially to see the Rock goys celebrating. They even sent us over a magnum of Champagne, the d**kheads.

And that was when I spotted my old man looking a little bit too pleased with himself up at the bor. Him an Hennessy were embracing each other and clinking their brandy glasses together and then I noticed a wad of notes in the old man's hand that was as thick as my three youngest children.

I knew at that moment that something was going on. When you grow up in a home whose door was kicked down by the Criminal Assets Bureau as often as ours was, you develop a fifth sense for that kind of thing.

When they left the bor, I followed them out, then upstairs to the old man’s corporate box, where he usually entertains all his knob mates.

I stood outside, listening, wondering should I push the door? Or were there things going on behind it that I possibly didn't even want to know about?

In the end, it was my curiosity that got the better of me. I ended up pushing the door. And there, standing with his hand out, while my old man counted fifties into his palm, was my son, my jockey, my Ronan.

"What the fock?" I went. "What the actual fock?"