Aidan Doherty is a feckless charmer. He's great company, twinkly, funny - but he's flakey. He's got away with it because he's full of banter and quick wit. Women love him. He's had loads of relationships which stumble at the first hurdle - commitment - although he's managed to stay friends with them all. He's far more comfortable being committed to his beloved horses - they don't answer back and they don't want to get married. So he's managed to avoid any kind of emotional responsibility in life. This feckless streak is played out in his gambling, which a year ago led to a huge row with his dad, and his father's death of a heart attack.
Aidan's managed to quit gambling, but he's been in denial about the state of his finances. He hasn't been facing up to anything, and he needs a wake-up call.
15 years ago he had a fling with a waitress on a trip to Newmarket. Until now, he's been unaware of Jonah, the son who was the product of that affair.
The owner of grand training yard, Firebrand. Ebullient, charismatic, scheming. Engaging and admirable but ruthless. Loves his daughter. Needs his wife.
A bon viveur - Carrick's a self-made man who made a fortune in property before becoming a top owner and breeder of race horses. Huge personality and a giant bank balance he isn't afraid to flash. He enjoys art, fine wine, good food and everything he knows, he's taught himself.
Adores the races but canny enough to know the real money is in breeding. Friends in high places - probably hung around with the Charles Haughey set when they were in power. Secretly would love Aidan to be his trainer - knows he's got the talent but couldn't risk asking him back.
Aidan and Carrick Backstory
Aidan's dad, Michael was Charlie's first Head Trainer. They go way back. Aidan also became a trainer at Firebrand. He has worked at there for the last 15 years. The three of them, made a winning team, Aidan was able to find Carrick quality horse flesh and Firebrand quickly became a successful yard, attracting high quality owners. The three men spent a lot of time together, and whilst Charlie and Aidan may have had their fallings out, it was arrangement that for the most part worked well. Aidan and Michael always had a plan to start up their own yard on their own land. Land which had been in the family for generations. Carrick wasn't over the moon when Aidan announced his plans, he enjoys being the master too much for that - but the split was at least going to be amicable.
The plan was for Doherty & Son to start small. So Aidan and Michael went to the sales. They spotted a colt and went into bid for it. Michael placed the winning bid but when they came to pay, it transpired that Aidan had gambled the money and lost. The colt was taken off them and they left not only empty handed but humiliated. Soon after, Aidan and his Dad had a terrible row and Michael had a heart attack and died.
Aidan blames himself for his dad's death. Carrick respected Michael a great deal and was deeply saddened when he died. Maybe he even holds Aidan a little responsible. Aidan went completely off the rails, the horses stopped winning and worse Aidan stopped caring. He continued to gamble and continued to lose. After a few months, Charlie called a halt and 'let Aidan go. It was a fairly bitter parting by that point. Charlie felt completely let down and betrayed, Aidan couldn't have cared less.
He stumbled on for the next few months, eking out a living, but it was never going to be enough to keep the wolf from the door. The bank was hovering in the wings; Aidan had bad debts all over the county. Charlie, never one to pass up a business opportunity, offered to buy Aidan's land. Although he'd never admit it, maybe not even to himself, he'll be glad to see Aidan go. Aidan really gets under his skin, probably because Aidan understands horses in a way that Charlie never will. Also Aidan isn't easy to dominate and Charlie doesn't like what he can't control. He wants the best - and that's Aidan -and it hurts all the more because he used to 'own' him but he'll never have that chance again.
When the show starts, Aidan is ready to go - staying would just too painful and too hard. It would also mean taking a chance on himself and that's a gamble he's not prepared to take.Charlie is glad that this chapter of his life is drawing to a close and now that he has Hooper on board, he's looking forward to a new era at Firebrand.
She's the one that got away. Yolanda is the same age as Aidan - they were at school together, and she's the only one who dumped him. She wanted to go places - vet school specifically - and didn't want an erratic Aidan to cramp her style. Instead, at 19, she made a great match with rich businessman Charlie Carrick. 11 years her senior and exactly the right antidote to Aidan's boyish charms.
She's glad she didn't fall into Aidan's clutches, but we will realise that their lives would have been very different, and much happier, if they'd been together.
She would love to go back to full-time vetting - she's still a country girl who adores horses. When she starts spending more time looking after Aidan's growing yard she feels more fulfilled. This development will start to cause conflict between her and Carrick as the series progresses.
Charlie and Yolanda Backstory
Yolanda met Charlie after she split from Aidan when he decided to go to the UK. She was just starting Vet School when Charlie swept into her life. He was about 29, a builder who was just starting to move into property development. He wasn't loaded by any means but you could tell that here was a man who was going places.
Yolanda was immediately drawn to him, good looking, charismatic and would never stand her up for a horse. They started dating and fell in love. After a few months, Yolanda became pregnant and whilst friends predicted that the relationship wouldn't last, they surprised everyone by getting married. And this was no marriage of convenience - it was a love match.
Carrick has supported Yolanda all the way through vet school. Whilst she was juggling motherhood and her studies, Carrick was building his business. Once Firebrand really took off, Yolanda found herself becoming sidelined and taking a less formal role in the business. Carrick has never tried to stop her from working but Yolanda didn't get to spend as much time as she would have liked at the yard as she was bringing up Sheridan. When Aidan was still the trainer, she felt happier as they were a great team but Hooper is a very different operator and things are really coming to a head.
Brought up on a Middlesbrough housing estate, Jonah's tough, wily and thinks on his feet. He's just been told about Aidan by his mum. He's inherited his dad's charm and twinkle with girls.
He's also a blagger and a gambler - but what he has that Aidan lacks, is drive and ambition. He loathed school but he'll be a grafter now he's in Ireland. He admires Carrick's chutzpah and gets on with him, which leads to clashes with Aidan.
He's got Aidan's gift with horses, although he doesn't realise this immediately because he's barely been anywhere near them. He's going to start managing Aidan and the yard - despite his youth he's an ideas man, and will help to make the business work. He'll probably do some secret riding at some point in the series - he's getting good. Of course he's not as grown-up or sophisticated as he thinks he is - so there'll be plenty of mistakes along the way, and he'll sometimes get into massive trouble.
Yolanda and Carrick's daughter. She's gutsy and brave - has her mother's affinity with animals but is a real Daddy's girl. She wants to be a jockey. Carrick doesn't approve, Yolanda is more mixed about it. For the moment, Sheridan rides out with the Firebrand horses, but every time she asks for a race, her dad says "we'll see" or "next time, Angel". She knows he's never going to say yes, although she's talented and would make a good little jockey.
Sheridan and Jonah are constantly sparring - teasing, verbally abusing, tricking one another. She's quite capable of behaving like a spoilt little princess in order to get her own way. Jonah resents her closeness to Aidan, who taught her to ride as a little girl. Aidan approves of her dreams - and in Ep 6 we'll find Aidan without a jockey and having to fall back on Sheridan. This will mean she and the crazy colt will race against her dad's star horse.
When somebody asked Dermot Cahill how long he'd been working for Aidan Doherty, he answered "Longer than himself".
As old and as wise as the hills, Dermot has been working with the Dohertys since time began. As he likes to say, he started out at the bottom of the ladder and he's still there today. He left Carrick's yard with Aidan and his dad when they planned to set up on their own. Uncountably ancient, unfailingly good-humoured and fighting fit, Dermot is a glowing testament to how working with horses is good for you. He was groom to a lot of winners in his time at Carrick's yard.
He lives in a rusty green caravan. He has a touch of Irish magic to him - just occasionally we might wonder if he has a sixth sense. We might suspect he's somehow orchestrated this fateful day to shake Aidan up - but then we'll dismiss the idea immediately as hokum. Apart from knowing everything there is to know about horses, he's pretty intuitive about people too. At some time or another all our regulars will end up in the caravan with a whisky, baring their soul to Dermot.
Carrick has bought the best trainer money can buy - a young Englishman who's basically a statistician. His approach is very far removed from Aidan's instinctive, gut-based talent and Carrick is glad. Hooper treats training like a science - lists, routines and timings. He doesn't have Aidan's gift, although Carrick's bought a pretty impressive yard of very well-bred horses for him to try out. He clashes with Yolanda - because she won't follow "the doctrine". Carrick is pleased with him and the results he's been achieving but never again will he trust a trainer like he trusted Aidan.
Hooper's not a total robot - he's probably quite a sweet bloke who loves his mum and is lonely over here in Ireland. He worked bloody hard to move up through the ranks in Newmarket and this is his reward. He's usually quite smartly dressed and you never see him on a horse. (Aidan gets around on his hack Swindle all the time). He'll make quite a funny combination with bullish, highly-coloured Carrick - although he enjoys Carrick's conspicuous consumption and isn't afraid to drive a very swish car.
Hogan is a pinhooker (horse-trader) whose ducking and diving will bring all kinds of shenanigans to the lives of Aidan, Dermot etc. He's our rude mechanical - always looking for a bargain, but lacking the talent to spot one. He's got plenty of dodgy contacts and mates in the wrong places. Always good for a comic subplot!
The colt which Hogan brings to Aidan in episode one has been ruined by poor treatment and misunderstanding. He arrives frightened, bad-tempered, violent and unpredictable. Only Aidan has any kind of lasting power over him. The colt is talented - very fast - and has it in him to be a world-beater. If only they can discipline him. He and Aidan have a lot in common. They've found each other at just the right time. Is he Aidan's nemesis or twin? Slowly through the series we will see his progress, as Aidan lavishes love and attention on him. In the final episode Aidan needs a horse to enter a big race, and Jonah persuades him to put his trust in the colt. Aidan eventually agrees, and it is really an act of self-belief. We sense that both Aidan and the colt are going to be just fine.