Ireland's new flat jockey champion.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Ireland's new flat jockey champion. thumbnail GER Lyons and Colin Keane.

COLIN Keane, who was officially crowned champion flat jockey in Ireland, spoke exclusively to Three Furlongs as the flat season came to a close at Naas racecourse on Sunday afternoon.

The 23-year-old is a former champion apprentice and was runner-up to Pat Smullen in the title race in 2015 and again 12 months ago, but finished this term with 100 winners - 12 clear of the nine-time champion Smullen.

The talented rider hails from Trim in Co Meath, and his inevitable participating in the horse racing profession was never in any doubt as his father Gerry is a well-respected dual-purpose trainer.

From as far back as Keane can recall, horses where always just the way of life and nothing ever attracted him in the slightest, "it was racing or nothing to be very truthful."

From Keane's first winner on No Trimmings at Dundalk Stadium back in 2010, he clearly has not had a minute to ponder as his whirlwind career went from strength to strength with his capabilities in the saddle, which have seen him frequently entering the winner's enclosures up and down the country and making him one of the most sought after jockeys.

A lot of recognition must be given to his employer Ger Lyons, who really gave him the lucky break early in his career, though we often speculated how the winning partnership first came about? "I was riding a horse for him in an apprentice race, which my agent sorted out by chance, and I was asked to go in and ride him out before hand and I enquired if I could have a job riding out for him and the rest is history," explained Keane.

With becoming a champion jockey there is sure to be several big offers on the table to join other stables and organisations, but Keane has been quick to slam that notion stating to us.

"I'm not going anywhere. The only way I'll leave Ger Lyons is if he sacks me." When interrogated about his most memorable moment to date, Keane responded with a grin: "My first Group One winner was a cherished moment. It was on the Tony Martin trained Laganore, who won in Italy earlier in this month for me. I got an incredible kick out of it." Keane has unquestionably put in the hard graft in becoming champion jockey and his race winning statistics speak for themselves, boasting an impeccable strike-rate of 39% for this season, which just shows the level of determination required to be in the position he is in today.

"Obviously it means the world to me as it would any jockey, with the work the team and myself put in I'm absolutely delighted," he said.

The pressure and expectation in becoming champion jockey must have been extremely stressful and what did he learn by this experience? "Take every day as it comes and accept there will be bad days but try and really appreciate the good times is what I have learned through my experiences so far."

The enticement of going to the middle east for their lucrative festivals in the winter is always on the back of any jockeys mind, but not this jockey as he decisively insisted: "I am staying at home this winter for the Dundalk races as it's always been good to me and I have plenty of nice horses to keep me more than busy, I am sure there will be other years to go abroad."

Staying on the subject of Dundalk, we could not let this jockey go without getting a few future winners for our readers to get stuck into at the Co Louth venue.

"Bring on the Band, Beckoning, and Elegant Drama, are three nice fillies that should be winning soon," stated Keane.

Outside the demanding world of horse racing, how does the champion jockey unwind from the hectic day to day grind? "Hanging out with my friends or going for a nice meal whenever I occasionally get the chance, though I do be very busy most of the time but I am not complaining," added Keane

On a final note We wish Colin Keane all the best for the winter series at Dundalk Stadium, which runs every Friday until March and we hope he enjoys his supremacy as Irish Champion jockey this year.


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