Limerick horse trainer Enda Bolger swaps saddle for stage ... and rocks out with Springsteen

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

HE is the undisputed king of cross country racing but for County Limerick horse trainer, Enda Bolger, no race tested his nerve as much as his 15 minutes on stage with ‘The Boss’, Bruce Springsteen.

HE is the undisputed king of cross country racing but for County Limerick horse trainer, Enda Bolger, no race tested his nerve as much as his 15 minutes on stage with ‘The Boss’, Bruce Springsteen.

In front of 37,000 fans at the RDS in Dublin, the champion trainer joined his musical hero and good friend, Bruce Springsteen, for a send-up of the Hyde Park concert which saw the UK authorities pull the plug on the musical legend after he broke the curfew.

“After all the races I have ridden and all the fences I have jumped, I was never as scared as I was for those 15 minutes,” Enda told the Limerick Leader this week.

During the sell-out gig in the RDS last week, Springsteen and his guitarist, Steve Van Zandt, could be seen wrestling with two men dressed as a politician and a London policeman, over the on/off switch on a big power generator.

Springsteen and the E Street Band were performing ‘Twist and Shout’ with Paul McCartney in Hyde Park only 70 hours previously, when the concert was curtailed much to the disappointment of the 70,000 strong crowd. Footage, pictures and reports of the ‘plug-pulling moment’ went global.

Enda, who had been out bowling with Springsteen in Stillorgan the night before the Dublin gig, said never in his “wildest dreams” did he suspect that Springsteen planned on re-enacting the moment as a wind-up.

“When we went to the show on Tuesday, Patti’s [Bruce’s wife] PA rang my wife, Shanny, and said he wanted to see me. It was about five o’clock in the afternoon. We normally would meet up before shows but this time he had a surprise for me!” the Bruree-based handler explained.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen, so when I walked into his dressing room he said: ‘You are coming on stage with me, tonight!”

Luckily, Enda had support on stage in the form of world-renowned show jumping rider Nick Skelton and young Bobby Kraut. Bobby is the son of Laura Kraut, who is Nick Skelton’s partner. Laura is training Bruce and Patti’s daughter, Jessie, show jumping at international level.

Enda was to play the part of the city councillor while Nick was to be the policeman.

“We had to wrestle with Bruce and Steve over the generator switch and then Bruce told us; ‘When that’s done, I want you to stay on stage for the song as well!” said Enda.

The song in question was the foot stomping ‘American Land’.

Nick Skelton, who holds the British equestrian high jump record from when he jumped over 7ft 7in on Lastic in London back in 1978, and competed in numerous Aga Khans at the RDS, admitted that it was also his “scariest moment”.

In an effort to put the trio at ease, Springsteen went through the routine beforehand in the dressing room and told them: ‘I just want ye guys to do this and we are going to have some fun, relax and enjoy yourselves’.

Despite the nerves, the moment is something Enda will never forget.

“I’m on a high ever since. It was a privilege to have been asked. To be there, having been a fan all my life, was just something else.”

Following the gig, Springsteen joined his Irish friends in the nearby Four Seasons Hotel for a catch-up.

According to the champion trainer, Springsteen “absolutely loves Dublin” and stayed on until Saturday morning taking in The Waterboys concert in the capital before jetting out to Oslo for his next gig.

And before he had even left the country thoughts had already turned to his next Irish concert and maybe even a gig in Thomond Park.

“We’d love to get him to play Thomond Park. It’s been discussed with him but it’s really up to the promoters,” said Enda who returned to the RDS on the Wednesday night for another three and a half hours of Springsteen magic.

“I had known at six o’clock on the Tuesday that I was going on stage, so the butterflies had set in, but for Wednesday night’s concert I could relax and take it all in. I really, really enjoyed it.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012, however, the day he sang on stage with The Boss in Dublin, will forever be etched in his memory.

“It is something that I will never, ever forget,” he said.