Jet Setting gives Keatley Guineas shot
A week that has yielded a second Ayr treble in the space of a month might yet get better for Adrian Keatley.
One of a small cluster of astute young Curragh-based handlers making a big impression, 33-year-old Keatley will on Sunday saddle Jet Setting in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas.
Acquired for £12,600 from Richard Hannon last autumn, the Fast Company filly cost a pittance in the context of her opposition in the €300,000 mile Classic. However, set alongside bargain basement stablemates at Keatley's new base at Rossmore Cottage, Jet Setting's price tag is almost exorbitant.
Last November, Keatley saddled his new acquisition to be placed in a Chantilly Listed race, the winner of which - La Cressonniere - secured the French 1,000 Guineas last Sunday.
Jet Setting duly dotted up on her Cork return in March and destroyed Now Or Never and Alice Springs in a 1,000 Guineas trial at Leopardstown, firmly establishing herself as a typically shrewd Keatley acquisition.
Buoyed by over €50,000 in prize money from those three starts, the Equinegrowthpartners Syndicate - headed by Keatley's bloodstock impresario John Kilbride - coughed up £30,000 to put her in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Jet Setting ran gallantly to finish ninth.
There should be no Minding on Sunday and there should be slower ground, so connections are going again, yet you can still back her at 20/1. This time, the supplementary fee is €30,000.
"We bought her with that French race in mind, but since then it has escalated - it is fairytale stuff now," Keatley says of Jet Setting. "If she never wins again that won't change. We should get slower ground on Sunday, and that will help, as will the fairer track. She is mad well.
"We are not going there thinking we are going to win or anything, but I can't see any reason why Jet Setting won't be there or thereabouts - she is a hell of a price, too."
Apart from Jet Setting's foray, Keatley has made two other trips to Britain this term. On April 25, he ran five horses at Ayr and returned with a 110/1 treble, two of which were ridden by Kieren Fallon. On Wednesday, the former champion also partnered two of his 79/1 trio from just four runners.
This is in keeping with the efficiency that Keatley has exhibited as a matter of routine since setting out on his own just two years ago. His British ratio was 4-15 (27pc) in 2014 and 3-16 (19pc) last year. In the same time, he is 11 from 122 (13.5pc) at home.
Like many other aspiring trainers, Keatley's business model revolves around regular cross-channel ventures, as well as beating a path to Dundalk. And he has an eye for a bargain.
Nice Vintage, a winner on both Ayr raids, was a €1,500 cast-off. Anonymous Lady, also successful both days, cost a €900 as a yearling; she has won four and €36,000 in prize money. Wednesday's anchor Millefiori was bought for around £2,500 and goes back to Ayr on Monday, with Hamilton also on her agenda two days later.
Busy times for Oliver McKiernan's well-travelled former assistant. "I'd love to be able to keep up the momentum until October, but I think I'll run out of stock," Keatley jokes.
"To win in Ireland with those three, you'd have maybe taken one to Killarney on Monday and another somewhere down the country next week and another somewhere else. No one would have noticed, and owners get treated like royalty at places like Ayr. Three lads from Nice Vintage's syndicate came home with a few grand on Wednesday, plus a framed photo, a vase and champagne. They had a great day and you don't get that here."
Apart from Jet Setting, Keatley has another smart cast-off in Elusive Guest to debut at the Curragh on Saturday, when his useful two-year-old The Mcgregornator will also be on duty.
Next month, the 2014 Group One winner G Force, back in training after fertility problems, could tackle the Rockingham. For him and his ambitious new trainer, there could be far bigger and better things still to come.