Is Bono nervous about the new U2 album? You bet
Bono may have upstaged everyone at the opening of the Leopardstown Racing Festival, but not even the U2 frontman could halt the decline in betting turnover at the famous Christmas meeting.
Fresh from Christmas dinner in Dalkey and his victory over An Taisce, who tried to stop his rooftop extension, Bono was among the first to arrive at the Dublin race meeting.
He was there enjoying a well-earned break after putting the finishing touches to U2's latest album.
"Sure, you're always nervous, but we've gone at it as if it was our first and the critics who have gotten a chance to listen to it already have all said it's the best yet" Bono told me, referring to the album No Line On The Horizon. " We're going after the younger audience this time too," he revealed.
So could he sum up the album in three words for the fans who have yet to get the pleasure? "It's very long," he said with a laugh.
"My favourite song is a song called Moment of Surrender, and the first track is 150 BPM, the fastest song we've ever recorded," he said, beaming with a glint in his eye behind his trademark blue glasses.
Before he left he gave me a gentleman's kiss on the back of my hand.
Over at the bar, ordering hot whiskies, was millionaire property developer Johnny Ronan, who said he had received "about 10 copies" of The Builders as a present this Christmas but hasn't got around to reading the book -- in which he features -- just yet.
Outside in the parade ring, businessman and gambler JP McManus received his prize after his horse pipped Ryanair's Michael O'Leary's nag at the post.
When I enquired how it felt to beat the Ryanair boss by a hair's breadth, he gave me a smile and a very politically correct comment. "It's great to win any race."
O'Leary himself wasn't at the races. He was busy planning his own photo finish against Aer Lingus.
Still in the Leopardstown winners' enclosure, former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds stood joshing with RTE's Colm Murray.
"You taught me everything I know," said the sports commentator.
"You taught a lot of people everything they know. Sure look at Brian Cowen, he wouldn't be where he is today without you, would he?" Another politically correct smile spread over another flushed face.
Also enjoying the day's action was Dublin businessman Charlie Chawke, who said, rather optimistically, that "Sunderland is going to win the league", as he headed off with his son.
But while everybody was in good spirits, the betting ring was feeling the pinch.
The Tote reported a drop of approximately 20 per cent in turnover at the traditional holiday race meetings in Leopardstown and Limerick.
This year, race organisers made the decision to do away with the reserved enclosure area for "equality purposes", according to Horse Racing Ireland's Michael O'Rourke.
And despite all the talk of a downturn, it seems to have paid off, with attendance hitting almost 17,000 -- slightly down on last year.