HE'S a multi-millionaire, but rock star Bono admitted that bookmaker Willie Power becomes "depressed" when he sees him at the races, as the singer never spends any money.
The U2 frontman continued an annual tradition by attending the opening day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival yesterday with his family and friends.
"The tradition started because of closeness, it was handy," the singer said.
"It's round the corner, it's world class and it's an amazing place to visit. We don't really go racing at any other time of year."
The 53-year-old, who busked on Grafton Street for charity on Christmas Eve with Glen Hansard, was joined by daughters Eve (22) and Jordan (24), sons Elijah (14) and John (12), and wife Ali Hewson (52) at the south Dublin racecourse.
After raising a glass of champagne with fans, Bono told the Irish Independent that he's not a keen gambler but enjoys catching up with his loved ones at the race meeting.
"You would laugh out loud. When bookies see us coming, they get depressed," he said.
"Only that Willie Power actually has a fondness for U2's music does he not look really sad when he sees us arrive, because he realises that the amount we put on is pitiful. But it's great. These are wonderful people who put on this event every year, and we're the best in the world at this.
"We pretend we're the best in the world at lots of things. But we are actually the greatest breeders. The greatest horse people in the world come here for good reason."
Bono and his family occupied three tables in a corner of the Leopardstown Pavillion, where they were joined by a number of well-known friends, including Irish artist Guggi, singer Simon Carmody and fashion designer John Rocha, as well as bandmate the Edge and his other half Morleigh. President Michael D Higgins also attended the race meeting. "I had intended to be here last year but the weather intervened," President Higgins said. "It is a great chance for me to meet people I have not met over the course of the year; it is such a community festival."
Leopardstown Racecourse chief executive Pat Keogh told this newspaper that they were expecting 55,000 race-goers over the four days of the event. "I'm very pleased with how the first day went, we got a huge turnout and we had some unbelievable racing," Mr Keogh said.
Despite yesterday's fine, crisp weather, predictions are blustery for today, with Met Eireann forecasting heavy showers across the country for day two of the meeting.