11/3/11, "Irish Teenager Rides YouTube Song to Breeders’ Cup," The Rail, NY Times blog
"Mark Boylan, 14, has only ever wanted to be one of two things: a musician or a jockey.
After he surpassed the diminutive height of the typical jockey, Boylan, of Banagher, County Offaly, in Ireland, threw all of his energy into music, playing gigs at pubs, festivals and other sites around the country. But he did not lose his passion for horse racing.
After attending the Cheltenham Festival, a steeplechase meet in England, with his father in 2010, he wrote a song about the event and posted it on YouTube. The video attracted attention from the racing community, including from the champion jockey Tony McCoy, who sent a message on Twitter, “I ain’t no Simon Cowell, but how good is 13-year-old Mark Boylan’s song about the Cheltenham Festival?”
The Racing Post, a British publication, helped Boylan record the song, “The Festival,” and released it on its Web site to benefit the Injured Jockeys Fund. He was invited to perform the song at the 2011 event.
Boylan did not want to stop there. Circled on his calendar every year, he said, alongside reminders about birthdays of friends and family, are the two days of the Breeders’ Cup. Channeling his enthusiasm for the event into his music, he spent a month writing a song, “Stateside,” in his bedroom and again posted the finished product on YouTube. The video, in which Boylan wears
- a trademark fedora, has drawn numerous positive comments.
Knowing it was “a long shot,” Boylan sent a link to the video to the Breeders’ Cup, hoping organizers might like it enough to post on the event’s Web site.
“When we first heard the song ‘Stateside,’ we were blown away,” said Peter Rotondo, vice president for media and entertainment for the Breeders’ Cup.
Boylan never imagined the Breeders’ Cup would fly him and his family to the United States so that he could perform the song Saturday, the day of the Classic, at Churchill Downs.
“I said to myself, even if they see it and they like it, that’s brilliant,” he said. “Even if they put it on their Facebook page or something like that. But to have them come back to me and say they actually wanted us to come over, I couldn’t believe it. I think my mother was quite worried about me because I nearly collapsed on the couch.”"...