Trim jockey Colin Keane was flying the Meath flag with distinction at the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship today where he partnered the first winner in the four-race series.
Keane got his Hong Kong debut off to a flying start at the prestigious event in the first leg when making his first ride at Happy Valley a winning one on the John Size-trained Special Stars.
THE WINNER FROM TRIM
Drawn widest of all in Gate 12, Keane broke alertly to take up a position in mid-division, tracking the leaders before launching his challenge off the home turn.
Special Stars responded to his encouragement to run down the leaders in the home straight to win by a length and a quarter from eventual title winner Silvestre de Sousa on board Midnight Rattler.
A BIG WELCOME
“He did it well, he was a little green early, but picked up well when I asked him and he’s a nice little horse,” commented Keane who was making his debut at the championships.
In front of some 30,174 racing enthusiasts Keane scooped a prize that included a cheque for HK$200,000 (approx €22,000) and a trophy.
Betting turnover was HK$1.348 billion and the overall title went to Silvestre de Sousa who scored points in all four legs at the Happy Valley venue.
That left him a convincing and deserved winner on a dramatic evening with the outcome only decided in the final leg of a thrilling night’s racing.
De Sousa struck in the second leg, with Gate 12 again proving no handicap, as he broke Jimmy Ting’s Glory Star from widest of all to take a lead that he was never to surrender.
US star Javier Castellano threw down a challenge on Good For You, but Glory Star had too much in reserve and held on for a convincing win.
Keane picked up more points for third on Tony Millard’s C P Power, so at the end of leg two de Sousa led on 18 pts, with Keane second on 16, and Castellano third on six.
Vincent Ho got his name on the scoresheet in the third leg, when getting up close home on Manfred Man’s Little Island, running down long time leader Curling Luxury and Castellano.
De Sousa could only manage third aboard favourite All You Know, but the four points earned increased his lead over Keane to six with one leg to go.
So it was all to play for between the four leaders going into the last leg, with de Sousa on 22 points, Keane on 16 and Ho tied with Castellano on 12, thanks to two second place finishes.
In the event de Sousa took the championship in emphatic style on John Moore’s Experto Crede when dashing through on the rail to hold the challenge of Ryan Moore on the John Size-trained Bank On Red.
With none of his nearest rivals scoring points in the last leg de Sousa finished well clear on 34 pts with two wins and a second and third in the four legs. Keane was runner-up on 16, while Ho shaded Castellano for third.
THE PRIZE FOR RUNNER-UP
Mr Lester Kwok (right), Deputy Chairman of the HKJC, presents a silver dish and cash prize of HK$200,000 to Colin Keane, runner-up at the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship.