Colin Keane wins first Irish Derby as British raider Westover bounces back from Epsom disappointment to take the Curragh crown

The selection of Champion Jockey Keane was vindicated in style

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Westover and Colin Keane after winning the 2022 Irish Derby

Westover and Colin Keane wrote their names into racing folklore by demolishing a strong field in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.

Much of the talk going into Saturday’s third classic of the season was dominated by who should be in the saddle, but the decision of the Juddmonte ownership to hand the ride to Champion Jockey Keane was vindicated with a spectacular performance.

Epsom Oaks winner and star filly Tuesday kept on well towards the end but Westover, for British trainer Ralph Beckett, was long gone out in front by that stage, cruising home to glory.

It was an impressive response after finishing third in the British equivalent of this race just three weeks earlier.

Keane, fresh from one of the biggest wins in his career, was quick to praise Rob Hornby, the man he replaced in the saddle when called up this week.

“It was very straightforward,” said Keane. “I want to give a big thank you to Rob Hornby who told me exactly what to do.


“He couldn’t have kept it anymore simple for me. The horse (Westover) is a very good horse and he proved it today.


“He got to the line very well and he’s a horse that could go a bit further.

“It was a nice even gallop the whole way, he was very good. 

“I’m very grateful to the Juddmonte family for putting me up they’ve been very good to us, I can’t thank them enough.

“My parents dragged me all over the country when I was younger pony racing, so at least they’re getting something out of it.”

Paddy Twomey’s French Claim had led for the majority of the one mile four furlong trip, but once Westover made his move inside the final two furlongs the result was never in doubt.

Piz Badile was another to improve hugely from his showing at Epsom at the start of the month and eventually pipped French Claim to second, while Oaks hero Tuesday had to settle for fourth.

It continued a brilliant weekend at the Curragh for Keane who picked up four winners on Friday night.

Winning trainer Ralph Beckett was overjoyed Westover could show his potential on the big stage after poor luck at the Downs.

“I’m delighted with everything,” he said. “Everything had really gone to plan this week. 

“He had travelled over yesterday and settled in really well.

“It felt like we had our ducks in-a-row and so it proved. He is surpassing our expectations every time.

“The King George VI is an obvious race for him, it is just whether it is the right thing for him at the time.

“I’ve never worried about ground with him. He is just very uncomplicated.”


Westover wasn't the only horse to bounce back from a recent disappointing outing over in Britain.

Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning combined to win the Dubai Duty Free Celebration Stakes one with Wexford Native, who had finished a lowly 10th in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot only 11 days previous.

Elsewhere, Johnny Murtagh and Ben Cohen teamed up to win the Group 2 Gain Railways Stakes with Shartash.

The two-year-old son of the Irish National Stud’s Invincible Spirit managed to hold off the challenge of the Aidan O’Brien-handled favourite Blackbeard in a tight finish.

I’m very grateful to the Juddmonte family for putting me up - Colin Keane

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