Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘Goys, does Ronan look like he’s actually in control of that horse?’
I’m like, ‘What the fock, Ro?’ because I’m suddenly thinking about the 20Ks I’ve just lost
Ronan looks the port, it has to be said, sitting up on top of our pride and joy, Hoss O’Carroll-Kelly, the 5/4 favourite to win the Wellbrook Hurdle today at Punchestown.
I ask him how he’s feeling and he goes, “Moostard, Rosser. Bit neervous, but,” and I tell him that nerves are good. Nerves are just the body’s way of sending you into battle with a high five. I overheard the great Jordi Murphy saying that in Five Goys in Blackrock one night and I loved it so much that I wrote it straight into my phone.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of my son. Yeah, no, he’s decked out in the red and black of Castlerock College, as is the famous Hoss, and me and the goys are leading him to the – I want to say storting line – for his first actual race.
I’m there, “Remember, Ro, there’s no real pressure,” deciding not to tell him about the 20Ks that I stuck on him to win.
“That’s right,” Oisinn goes. “Today is about sending out a message to the Blackrock College syndicate that there’s a new stallion in the paddock. And they’re going to have a serious, serious race on their hands in Leopardstown on Stephen Zuzz Day.”
Yeah, no, Orthurian Fame won by five lengths in the three o’clock and the Rock goys are still showering each other in Veuve Clicquot – which is generally what people do with the stuff when they can’t hold their drink.
But the “sending it” suddenly stops when they see the stors of the famous Castlerock College Dream Team – like I said – leading the horse out.
Hilariously, they stort actually wishing us luck. They’re like, “Hope he has a good run today, goys!” because Rock boys are nothing if not well bred. We all just give them the finger – like you do when you steal a porking space that someone’s been waiting for patiently for the past, like, 10 minutes.
The faces on them – literally priceless.
We reach the storting line and we stort giving Ronan some last-minute advice like we know what we’re actually talking about. Christian goes, “Just try to ride the horse faster than all the other horses in the race.”
And I’m like, “Yeah, thanks for that, Willie Mullins.”
Fionn goes, “I keep thinking about how proud Fr Fehily would be if he could see us right now, keeping the whole school rivalry thing going into middle age.”
I’m there, “If there’s a bookies in heaven, he’ll have a few squids on Hoss to win today – trust me.”
JP goes, “I was thinking this morning that we should send the horse into this race the way Fr Fehily used to send us out on to the rugby field.”
Listen to ross
I’m like, “What, pump him full of drugs and read him Hitler speeches?”
He’s there, “No, no, do you remember he used to throw holy water on us as we were leaving the dressing room. From the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Altötting. The German Lourdes, he used to call it.”
From his sheepskin coat – yeah, no, I forgot to mention, we’re all wearing sheepskin coats – JP produces a small Schweppes soda water bottle, which is half-full slash half-empty.
Christian laughs. He goes, “Okay, where did you get that?”
And JP’s there, “I took it from his house after he died – I had a feeling we might need it again one day.”
Jesus, I think I was topping my whiskey up with that after the funeral. No wonder I had no hangover the next day.
JP throws water on Ronan and Hoss, then suddenly we’re told to clear off because the race is about to stort.
We stand behind the rail. I shout, “Send a message, Ro! Send a message!” and suddenly the race is on. It’s on like Maud Gonne’s thong.
Hoss O’Carroll-Kelly takes off like a bullet from a gun. He’s over the first fence and absolutely motoring. The nearest horse to him is the Gonzaga Past Pupils Union mount – From Loyola With Love – but he’s, like, four lengths behind as the race reaches the halfway mork.
I’m there, “He’s jumping those fences like they’re not even there.”
It’s Oisinn who ends up noticing that something is possibly wrong. He goes, “Goys, does Ronan look like he’s actually in control of that horse?”
I’m there, “Yeah, no, he definitely does to me,” except then I notice his two hands flailing in the air as the horse clears the second last fence and – to be honest – I stort to genuinely worry.
Disaster suddenly strikes
He’s, like, 10 lengths clear of From Loyola with Love as he approaches the last fence. I’m there, “It doesn’t matter if he’s in control or not. Once he gets over this one, he’s home and dry,” and I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do with all the money I’m going to win.
It might even pay for one or two items on Honor’s Santa List.
But that’s when disaster suddenly strikes. The horse manages to get over the fence, but Ronan is somehow thrown off and he lands heavily on the hord ground. From Loyola with Love clears it easily – God, I hate Gonzaga – and romps home to victory.
But, by that stage, me and the goys are already running across the – I think it’s the right word – track – to check if Ronan is okay.
One or two stewards in fluorescent yellow bibs try to stop us, but I feint one way, then, with a flick of my hips, I go the other – rugby nerds would recognise it as a signature move of mine from back in the day – and I end up being the first to reach my son.
I’m there going, “Ro! Ro! Speak to me! Are you okay?”
He sits up. He definitely seems okay?
Fionn’s there, “Can you move? Is anything broken?”
He goes, “Nah, Ine alreet, feddas.”
I’m like, “What the fock, Ro?” because now that I know he’s fine, I’m suddenly thinking about the 20Ks I’ve just lost.
He goes, “What the bleaten heddle was in that botoddle?”
JP’s there, “It was just, like, holy water?”
Ronan shakes his head. He’s like, “That was no holy wather. Whatebber it was, it frightened the Jaysus out of the bleaten horse.”