Colin Keane has been around the world in recent times but
is relishing a return to domestic duties as he looks to become Ireland’s
champion flat jockey for the fifth time, writes Paul Martin.
The 28-year-old has come out on top in each of the last three years and begins the defence of his crown at the Curragh on Saturday, where he takes the ride on George Boughey’s English raider Totally Charming in the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire.
Refreshed by a trip down under with his partner Kerri and friends from the weighing room, Keane rode for Michael O’Callaghan in Dubai en route back to Ireland and is now ready to hit the ground running.
“You need a break after a busy season to recharge the batteries and it was great to go to Australia,” he said.
“We went to the Magic Millions sale while we were over there but apart from that, it was a complete holiday.
“I have been back riding over here since February and I am definitely ready for the season to kick off.
“I am looking forward to riding Totally Charming this weekend, George rang me last week to say he was coming over and I thought he’d be a nice horse to ride.
“He has good form on slow ground and usually the English horses are a few pounds ahead of our Irish horses, so hopefully he’ll give a good account of himself.”
Keane keeps his ambitions simple ahead of any new campaign – ‘ride more winners than last season’.
It was a target made all but impossible this time last year following his remarkable 2021 exploits, when he banked a staggering 141 winners to break the record previously held by Joseph O’Brien.
Last summer was a closer battle as he and Billy Lee were neck and neck to set up a thrilling finale, Keane eventually finishing three clear on 92, and he is expecting another competitive race for the leading jockey crown.
“If it’s not Billy, it will be someone else,” he said. “Ireland is so competitive and any amount of top class riders can challenge – even the apprentices are getting better and better each year.
“It [breaking the record] was exceptional, it was kind of a freak thing. I was riding for the boss [Ger Lyons], for Mr [Dermot] Weld and for Noel [Meade], I had the choice of three or four yards at the time and everyone’s horses were in great form.
“Everything clicked over the year. Those sorts of seasons are few and far between but if I had another year like that this time around I’d be very happy!
“Reaching 100 is the goal every year and hopefully I’ll get there this time.”
His chances of doing so are aided by the consistent quality of horses coming out of Lyons’ Glenburnie stable, with the current crop giving Keane plenty to be excited about.
“It’s hard to talk too much about the two-year-olds as we haven’t really pushed any buttons,” he said.
“Of the three-year-olds, you’d have to be looking at Tough Talk. He beat [Phoenix Stakes winner] Little Big Bear in his maiden, was second the next day but had a setback after that.
“He now seems to be training well and he’s a horse to look forward to.
“Hellsing was just tipped off in the Goffs Million but he’s done very well from [age] two to three.
“Then there are fillies like Zarinsk, won her listed race on Champions Weekend, and Mauiewowiewas a very good sprinting filly last year.
“There is plenty to look forward to and it’s an exciting time of year for us.”