Meath-born jockey Colin Keane is making a very serious challenge for the Irish Flat Jockey’s Championship title this year, and currently leads the reigning champion, Pat Smullen. To many Keane is known as Ger Lyons’ jockey, but who exactly is Colin Keane?
Keane was born in Meath on 12th September 1994 and rode his first winner, No Trimmings, in Dundalk, on 10th December 2010. This was Keane’s only winner in his first year when he had 10 racecourse rides. The following season he amassed over €32,000 in prize money, riding a total of 5 winners. The young rider continued on an upward curve in 2012 when he had 9 winners and was runner-up on 14 occasions, winning over €46,000 in prize-money.
Brendan Bracken was the first horse to bring the young rider to national prominence when the combination won both the Topaz Mile Handicap at The Galway Races and the Group 3 Manguard Plus Solonaway Stakes at The Curragh in 2013, a year Keane rode 35 winners, and finished second to Connor King in the race for the apprentice jockey’s title.
Ger Lyons appointed the Meathman as his stable jockey in the summer of 2014. This new link-up saw Keane visit the number one spot 54 times that season, gross more than €562,000, and in the process, be crowned champion apprentice jockey.
He finished runner-up to Pat Smullen in the jockey’s title race in 2015 when he rode 65 winners, among them Ainippe in the TRM Ballyogan Stakes and the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Brownstown Stakes, Bear Cheek in the Curragh Stakes, and Blue De Vega in the Killavullen Stakes, all at Group 3 level.
2016 saw Keane break through the million-euro mark in prize-money won when he amassed €1,072,125 courtesy of a new personal record of 77 winners in the season. More group success came his way through Ardhoomey (Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes), Medicine Jack (Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes) and Duchess Andorra (Group 3 D. Cordell Lavarack/Lanwades Stud Stakes).
So far, this turf season Colin Keane has ridden over 60 winners, winning over €770,000 in prize-money. He has tasted success in two Group 3 races: Irish Stallion Farms EBF Brownstown Stakes with Réaltra and the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Curragh Stakes on Treasuring.
In just a short few years Colin Keane has come a long way and has had some notable success. Maybe his greatest achievement yet, being crowned champion jockey, is just around the corner.
By Breandán Ó hUallacháin