‘Oh my God,’ Honor goes, ‘there’s a focking horse in the gorden!’

Yeah, no, I bought a racehorse, but it’s not for Honor – it’s for my old school’s honour

 

“No,” Sorcha goes – and she says it just like that.

I’m like, “No? No, as in?”

She’s there, “No, as in no. You are not buying a racehorse.”

What she doesn’t know, of course, is that I already have? Yeah, no, Ronan rode it out here from the Bridge, because it was obviously too big to fit in a taxi. It’d probably be wise to keep Sorcha away from the windows for now.

I’m there, “Does it not bother you, Sorcha, that there’s a horse running in the Blackrock College colours and there isn’t one running in the Castlerock College colours?”

Don’t forget, there’s the whole social dimension to owning a racehorse. I’m talking about Christmas at Leopardstown. Paddy’s Day at Cheltenham

This cuts literally no ice with her. I don’t know why I thought it would. She goes, “Ross, there are far more important things in life than what secondary school you went to,” which is rich coming from the girl who had Honor’s name down for Mount Anville 15 minutes after she got the two lines on the pregnancy test.

I’m obviously having no luck so I decide to change the angle of attack. Once a 10, always a 10.

“Don’t forget,” I go, “there’s the whole social dimension to owning a racehorse. I’m talking about Christmas at Leopardstown. Paddy’s Day at Cheltenham. Hanging out at the Galway Races with the likes of the Seoiges and Pippa O’Connor.”

Pippa O’Connor is her girl crush.

I’m there, “You never know, you two might even become bezzy mates.”

I can see her resistance weakening.

She goes, “Okay, just promise me that you won’t do anything until I’ve had time to think about it.”

I’m there, “Yeah, no, fair enough. Maybe stay away from the window there, Sorcha.”

“Ross, say you promise.”

“Yeah, no, I swear on my mother’s life.”

And that’s when I hear this high-pitched scream from Honor upstairs. “Oh my God,” she goes, “there’s a focking horse in the gorden!”

Sorcha’s like, “What did she just say?”

I’m there, “She’s probably just having a nightmare. Did you see Pippa has a new book out? I was thinking of buying it for you for Christmas.”

Ten seconds later, Honor comes chorging down the stairs, going, “You bought me a horse!” and then she throws her orms around my waist. “Thank you, Daddy! Thank you, Daddy! Thank you, Daddy!”

I pat her on the head and I go, “It was just a dream you had, Honor. Just a crazy, crazy dream.”

But Sorcha has made her way over to the window and now she’s looking out.

She’s there, “Oh! My! Literally? God!”

The horse is eating her Sweet alyssum.

Sorcha goes, “You already bought it? I can’t believe you bought it without consulting me first!”

Ronan rode it here bareback all the way from Ballsbridge. It was like something from Into the West – except obviously on the Rock Road

I’m like, “The thing is, Sorcha, the dude who was selling it – he was on the same Junior Cup team as me – he needed an answer straight away.”

Honor opens the back door and runs out into the gorden.

Sorcha goes, “Honor, be careful!” but the girl is totally fearless.

Up to the horse she morches and storts petting his nose and talking sweetly to him.

Sorcha’s there, “You haven’t thought any of this through.”

I’m like, “There wasn’t time for us to think it through. Like I said, the dude wanted a quick sale. Ronan rode it here bareback all the way from Ballsbridge. It was like something from Into the West – except obviously on the Rock Road.”

“Ross, you don’t know the first thing about horses.”

“Whatever I need to know, I can either ask Ronan or I can Google it.”

“Where is he going to stay?”

“Here – with us.”

“And what’s he going to eat?”

“Grass. Flowers. Whatever’s out there. Then, at night, I was thinking we could maybe stick him in the Shomera.”

“My parents live in the Shomera, Ross.”

“Hey, I’m sure he won’t mind sharing if they don’t.”

She goes, “No,” whipping out her mobile phone.

I’m like, “Excuse me?”

“I’m going to ring around and see can I find a stable.”

“For your mum and dad, or for–?”

“For the horse, Ross.”

“Okay, cool. Actually, that’ll make it look like a genuinely professional operation. Good thinking, Sorcha.”

I hate you. You were a failure as a rugby player and you’re a failure as a father. I should ring Tusla. I’m going to ring Tusla

I walk over to Honor, who’s hugging the animal’s neck and telling him that she’s got the best dad in the entire world. It’s actually a lovely thing for me to hear – great for my confidence – which is why I hate bursting her bubble. But I end up having to?

I’m there, “It’s not for you, Honor.”

She’s like, “Excuse me?”

“Yeah, no, I know you’ve been at us to get you a pony for Christmas, but it’s not actually for you?”

“I hate you,” she goes, like a switch has been suddenly flicked. “You were a failure as a rugby player and you’re a failure as a father. I should ring Tusla. I’m going to ring Tusla.”

“Yeah, no, you tried that when we refused to give you the money to go skiing during midterm. They told you then, Honor – they’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

“Oh my God, I hate you! I hope you die!”

“Just calm down, will you? Look, we’ll see about maybe getting you a pony for your birthday. Like I said to Sorcha – there’s room in that Shomera for more than just her old pair. But this actual horse . . . is mine.”

“Yours?”

“Well, mine and JP’s, Oisinn’s, Fionn’s and Christian’s. We bought it as port of a syndicate.”

“Why?”

“Because Blackrock College have one – and obviously we want to beat them.”

“Oh my God, Dad, there are more important things in life than what secondary school you went to.”

I might remind her she said that next time the Mount Anville fees come due.

I’m there, “I’ve heard that argument made,” walking around the back of the horse, “but I don’t believe it.”

She goes, “So is this, like, your midlife crisis?”

I laugh. I’m there, “I know what I’m doing, Honor,” and I slap the horse on its – I want to say – orse?

In that moment, the thing suddenly bucks, kicking me in the chest and sending me staggering backwards across the gorden and into the fence. I haven’t been hit that hord since the night I walked into Clohessy’s in Limerick and shouted, “Mint juleps all round!”

“Hillair!” Honor goes. “Hill! Air!”

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