A day-by-day history of U2, now in its second edition.

Bono and His Spotty Memory

By on August 31, 2007 in Researching with 5 Comments

There’s a really wonderful story in Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas that belongs in U2 Diary, too, but I don’t see any way to make that happen.

It’s near the end of the book, in the “Faith Versus Luck” chapter. It’s on ppg. 290-91 of the U.S. hardback edition, and ppg. 322-23 of the U.S. paperback edition. It’s the story of Bono going to Cork with Ali and her family, and while there, placing a bet on the Irish Grand National horse race. Bono gets a tip at the last minute from a stranger walking out of a men’s room, bets the horse, and the horse wins. Bono makes like £500 and uses the money as a gift for a friend who’s getting married.

Bono tries to remember the name of the horse that won for him, and comes up with “Rolled Gold.” Problem is, there’s no horse by that name on the list of winning horses. (It’s not on this list, either … for those who don’t trust Wikipedia.)


Bono and Ali met in November, 1976. The horse race is on Easter Monday. The band had a gig on Easter Monday in 1977, so this was probably 1978 … but how on earth could I ever confirm that?

“Dear Bono,

Was the horse “Billycan” in 1977, “Brown Lad” in 1978, or “Tied Cottage” in 1979?


(You know, just in case yer man is subscribed to the RSS feed or something….)

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There Are 5 Brilliant Comments

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  1. esparby says:

    I say email it to him, directly quoted from that. What can you lose? Just your dignity, and face it, who needs that? ;p

    Wish there was some way I could help!


  2. bjoern says:

    dunno if thats of any help:

    1. are you sure bono meant that the horse actually won the race? or could he have just put a bet on the horse to finish maybe second or amongst the first three or something. that would explain why its not on the winners list

    2. the only horse by that name I could figure on the web is mentiones on this site:
    but its australian, look trip just to win the irish national, ey?

  3. Matt says:

    The wording in Michka’s book is pretty specific, Bjorn — that’s supposed to be the name of the winning horse. The guy gave him a tip on which horse would win, and that’s the horse Bono bet on.

    Thank you, though. 🙂

  4. Chris says:

    To win 500 quid, the horse would have to be back of the field coming to the front of the field. Most of the off field prognosticators will derive their own odds to draw people away from the on field betting windows. I’ve only bet the ponies once in Ireland (at Naas) and my horse placed second but took the most winnings because he placed when he shouldn’t have.

    Matt, it’s B’s memory after all and Michka is just an observing party so in the sake of completeness this is something to consider.

  5. Ange says:

    Odds for those 3 winners (final numbers) Seems likely was either Billycan or Tied Cottage. At 5/1 he would have had to put 100quid on to win 500 off brown lad. Also is it possible he just backed a winner on the day rather than of the actual national?

    1979 TIED COTTAGE 11, 10-12, A Robinson, D L Moore, A Robinson 13/2

    1978 BROWN LAD 12, 12-2, Mrs P Burrell, J Dreaper, G Dowd 5/1

    1977 BILLYCAN 7, 10-0, V Kilkenny, A Maxwell, M Morris 8/1

    About 2/3rds down the page.


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