The final stages of Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup proved to be an absolute nail-biter.
The winner was obviously going to come from Almandin and Heartbreak City but who exactly would emerge victorious remained in doubt right until the finish line of the $6 million Group 1 race.
The ding-dong battle between the pair was eventually won by Almandin by just 0.2 lengths, who came down the outside to give owner Lloyd Williams a record-breaking fifth Melbourne Cup success.
Given the history on the line, and the winning margin, the New York-based Irish owners of Heartbreak City had every right to be shattered.
So you can understand Channel 7 reporter Neil Kearney being slightly wary when, after watching the race with the colourful group, he asked them for their thoughts.
He could not have imagined the reaction he was about to get.
Watch the video below:
As seen in the footage broadcast on Channel 7, Aidan Shiels embraced his fellow owners before stunning Kearney with a bear hug that knocked the veteran journalist onto his backside.
Kearney then could be seen pushing Shiels off him and said: “You finished second, mate”, perhaps thinking that the Heartbreak City owner had incorrectly called the result of the race.
But Shiels knew – bellowing “I don’t care” back at a stunned Kearney.
“We finished second! We would have been happy with last,” he then screamed as bemused racegoers watched on.
Shiels showed off his eccentric mannerisms when appearing at Monday’s Melbourne Cup parade in which he hugged and kissed fans.
And a bit of digging showed that this Channel 7 interview was far from his first notable post-race piece of television.
Shiels and friends Niall Reilly and Charlie Gavigan gave this interview after Almandin won the Ebor Handicap in York, England, in August this year.
Heartbreak City's New York-based Irish owners toast their Ebor winner – and invite Nick Luck for a drink https://t.co/jx4DmNlRnB
— Channel 4 Racing (@Channel4Racing) August 20, 2016
The Heartbreak City story
In an interview with Fairfax Media in the build-up to the Melbourne Cup, Shiels admitted that some people thought the ownership group were “crazy”.
“We’re good friends. We drink, we go out, holidays together, do it for the craic [laugh], that’s what it is,” he said.
“People think we are crazy, but what are you going to do?
“Walk around and shake hands after winning a big race – it could be five years between wins.
“Jesus, enjoy them because there are too few of them. We don’t care about the money.
“The money doesn’t mean anything.”
Shiels, Reilly and Gavin took on the ownership of the Irish raider after his former owner, George Swan, died last November from cancer.
The horse’s trainer, Tony Martin, said he hoped Heartbreak City won the Melbourne Cup for Swan.
“I’d really love him to win for the man above,” he said in the build-up to the Cup.
“The man was only 50 years of age when he died of cancer.
“I think he’ll be looking down. Whatever he does on Tuesday, I think he’ll be rooting for him.”
Heartbreak City was not able to complete the fairytale and win for Swan.
But he went exceptionally close.
And you can be sure that New York-pub owner Shiels and his friends will have raised a glass or several to Swan in the aftermath.