Thursday 19 September 2019

Champion Keane brings up brilliant century at Naas

Keane: "I would not be in this position without the backing of Ger, and to get the 100 winners is really the icing on the cake." Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Colin Keane was officially crowned champion Flat jockey for the first time as the season came to a close at Naas yesterday.

Having been champion apprentice in 2014, the 23-year-old Meath man was runner-up to Pat Smullen in the title race the following year and again 12 months ago, but finished this term with 100 winners - 12 clear of the nine-time champion after a season-long battle.

A Naas winner for Ger Lyons, for whom Keane is stable jockey, on Inscribe got the celebrations going before the rider brought up the landmark century aboard the Matthew Smith-trained Warnaq.

Keane said: "It's fantastic. I would not be in this position without the backing of Ger, and to get the 100 winners is really the icing on the cake.

"I have to thank all the team behind me. I wouldn't be in this position without them.

"It's been relentless all season, and the last month hasn't been that enjoyable. It's been hard work, and it's only since Friday that I've really started enjoying it.

"I suppose halfway through I thought I had some chance. We hit the ground running and have been consistent all year round.If I wasn't riding for the boss, my agent Rory (Tierney) got me on the best rides available. It's a team effort."

Keane continued: "It's sunk in now and it's a great day. I'm going to enjoy it. Pat's a world-class rider and a gentleman in the weighing room. He'll help you any way he can. It's a great achievement to beat him. I'm over the moon.

"I'm not going anywhere. The only way I'll leave Ger is if he sacks me."

Lyons said: "I know how popular Colin is but to see all the support (at Naas) for him is great. I wanted everyone to be here and be part of this because it's historic.

"Colin winning the jockeys' championship is the biggest moment in my career and I just love the way he's carried himself throughout the whole thing."

Smullen had the last say by winning the concluding race at Naas on Tocco D'Amore, after which he paid tribute to the new champion. "I want to congratulate Colin. He's a true champion. He earned it and I think I made him work for it," he said.

Oisin Orr, from Rathmullan, Co Donegal, was crowned the champion apprentice 20 winners, one ahead of Killian Leonard.

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