This season of flat racing has certainly been one to remember. With spectators finally allowed back in the stands at the racetrack, entertainment has reached an all time high, with upsets aplenty following a long 18 months behind closed doors. With the calendar winding down and attention turning to British Champions Day, the horse racing tips are doing their best to predict who will pick up the remaining accolades come the end of the season.
The campaign’s conclusion also provides the opportunity to give credit where it’s due to the best performers. While some of the upsets we’ve seen this season, such as Torquator Tasso’s massive shock in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at odds of 80/1, have been fantastic, the consistent performers also need their recognition — notably Colin Keane.
With still a few races to go, the Irish champion jockey set a new record for winners in a season in Ireland as he landed his 127th victory of the campaign, assisted by some powerful running from Power Under Me at the Curragh. It seemed like there was a certain degree of inevitability in the air when he equalled Joseph O’Brien’s record at Dundalk and then pulled ahead to write his name in the history books that same weekend. The Irishman setting the record on home soil makes it all the more poignant.
While he tried to reinforce at the start of the year that his only goal was to better his previous tally of wins, it is no secret that his last few performances have been amped up a few notches in order to cement his own personal legacy. Although the record seemed unattainable initially, as weeks went on and the victories continued to pile up, spectators were beginning to believe it could be a real possibility, and finishing with time to spare is a testament to the 27-year-old’s composure when it counts the most.
“We’ve been getting close to it slowly but surely, I’ve had plenty of seconds in the last two weeks. It was great to level it for the boss and then to go and beat it for the boss is even better,” Keane said.
“It hasn’t sunk in and probably won’t until we start on zero next year and we’re looking back on it. We try to beat every year’s tally, we mightn’t have a year like this again for a while so we’ll appreciate it while it’s here.”
With so many strong Group 1 victories to chose from, it is hard to pick a standout performance which really encapsulates his superiority throughout the year. Amongst all of those wins, across the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.
Keane made his name with trainer Ger Lyons, with speculation at times last year that he would be taking on a new challenge, he made the decision to U-turn and stick with the fellow Irishman and it has paid dividends. Upon breaking the record Lyons spoke so highly of the jockey, saying: “Colin is a credit to himself, his family and the whole racing industry. He’s a fine example of what a champion jockey should be. He keeps himself to himself and lets his riding do the talking.
“Every winner he rides from now until the end of the season is going to be a record and, you know what, next season he will want to better whatever total he finishes with this season so he is going to keep us on our toes!”
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