Saturday 24 March 2018

More to life than Fame And Glory

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

We were in the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot sipping champagne and eating parcels of crayfish and crab in a sauce as light as watch oil.

An elegant woman wearing a short silk Kimono cast a glad eye. Her glutton of a husband ate two ducks by hand. And then he burped. The man had no respect for food. He might as well have been eating a snack box.

Down below on the track, Rite of Passage just pipped Age of Aquarius to win the 2010 Ascot Gold Cup in one of the greatest straight battles of all time.

Ah, but look at us now where we are.

The Curse was planted up at the counter. We have written here before of such tormentors, but The Curse is the worst.

His usual one is: "They opened him up and closed him."

So, here are all these surgeons slicing people open and having a look around with a flash lamp. Too much for me. I asked The Curse to leave forthwith.


"If I wanted bad news I'd turn on the TV."

There was a threat of an objection to my licence and worse again a complaint to the mother.

I was tempted to scrawl a 'For Sale' sign on the back of a bank statement in my own blood, but then a learned man came in who knew his racing.

Jim Brassil was back from the mart where calves are now fetching a grand or more. Whisper it. The farmers are going well, at last.

"The Ascot Gold Cup," he declared, "is the best race of them all." I was inclined to agree with him. In the early days of Flat racing, the Gold Cup was the Blue Riband.

The television doesn't really show the helter skelter pace. Then, after two miles of Pony Express, the horses face a gradual, but punishing half mile uphill finish. It takes class, stamina and courage in abundance to win a Gold Cup.

Fame And Glory won the Irish Derby over a mile and a half. The talk was he had too much speed and maybe not enough stamina. If Aidan O' Brien thought Fame would stay, that was good enough for me. I had the day's takings on.

The Curse drank two pints over a three-hour period (during which time he opened and closed three men and one woman). That came to €7.50. I added in €2.50 of my own.

Then I locked up. "Why are you closing?" asked Jim Brassil. "In case someone comes in," I replied. I told him about The Curse.

"What are you complaining about? Didn't I see Miss Ireland here only last week?"

Aoife Hannon became only the first Listowel Emmets player to win Miss Ireland. Aoife was in my daughter Lainey's class.

She is a lovely girl from a smashing family and a mighty footballer who never pulls back from the toughest challenge. Just like her uncle, Tipp star Eamonn Corcoran.

Young girls often give up football or camogie because their peers taunt them with jibes like "you'll turn into a man with big fat legs if you play football." Aoife's win finishes off that cruel and inaccurate stereotyping forever.

Congrats to the Kerry hurlers and the canny John Meyler. Your win in the Christy Ring brought fame and glory to the Kingdom. I'm a little embarrassed I couldn't get to the final. Kerry won easily and so too did Fame And Glory.

Jamie Spencer gave Fame a text-book ride.

The last time we met was at an after-races party in the Trainers Car Park at Ascot. Spencer was chatting to The Sultan of Somewhere and the Marquis of Wherever.

Well they were big people anyway.

"Did you see it last night? What happened?"

He was talking about 'Fair City'. I made up the script. Spencer's reactions were as over the top as the hero in a silent movie. He really loves to ham it up.

And then Spencer went on about the carry-on in 'Eastenders' and 'Coronation Street'.

"How do the people living there stick it all, what with the serial killers and all the trouble?" he asked in fluent Tipp without the slightest trace of Newmarket (England).

The Sultan whispered to the Marquis: "I think young Jamie believes these are real people."

There's more to life than fame and glory.

Jamie used to be stable jockey to Aidan O'Brien and this was his first big win for his former boss since parting company.

"What's it like to be back with Aidan?" asked the BBC. "We're getting along a lot better now," replied Jamie with a roguish grin.

O'Brien elbowed Spencer playfully in the ribs.

"Tomas O Se would have got two months for that," remarked Jim Brassil.

But Spencer stayed on his feet. He always does. He's had his share of non-sports headlines, but which of us is pristine under the microscope?

John Magnier, the boss of Coolmore and Ballydoyle, is Spencer's godfather and the parting must have been tough on all concerned.

Jamie is ready now. I have a feeling this is the first of many more big wins for the Spencer, Coolmore and O'Brien team.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport