Colin Keane hoping to profit from O’Brien rides in battle for champion jockey title

2017 champion looking to extend his lead over Shane Foley at Cork on Tuesday

Colin Keane teams up with Aidan O'Brien's two runners at Cork on Tuesday as he closes in on Ireland's jockeys' championship.

Keane, the 2017 champion, holds a four winner advantage (80-76) over his rival Shane Foley with less than four weeks of the season to go.

The unavailability of O'Brien's two main local jockeys, Séamus Heffernan and Wayne Lordan, meant Keane was called upon to ride a first winner for Ballydoyle at the Curragh on Sunday.

He steps into the breach again on Tuesday including on the handicap debutant Satin And Silk.


If the temporary new link has even prompted speculation about Ryan Moore’s position as Coolmore’s number one rider the reality may be more mundane.

Lordan’s shoulder injury is set to keep him on the sidelines for some time yet but Heffernan is due to return from suspension at the Curragh on Thursday.

Nevertheless, with every winner vital, the prospect of at least two more Ballydoyle mounts could help keep the championship momentum in Keane’s favour.

Sir Lucan, fourth at a big price to his stable companion High Definition in the Beresford Stakes last time, goes in the opener, although he may find the Aga Khan’s Kailash a tough opponent.

Satin And Silk however could be very dangerous for her handicap opposition off a mark of just 72.

A new Flat rating of 71 for the controversial Ronan McNally-trained horse Dreal Deal means he looks a handicap ‘blot’ in the Cork finale.

Following his gambled-on success over hurdles at Navan last month, Dreal Deal scored on the level at Limerick on Saturday.

The handicapper said afterwards that performance was an improvement on his previous Flat form of about two stone and acted accordingly on Monday by raising Dreal Del 26lbs in the ratings.

The horse lines up on Tuesday carrying just a mandatory 6lb penalty for winning at the weekend. If that hasn’t taken the edge off him then it’s hard to make a case against the McNally runner.

Tuesday's National Hunt action is at Punchestown but will be without both Davy Russell and Jack Kennedy.

Both jockeys were injured at Limerick on Sunday and are set to be out of action for “a number of weeks”.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's medical officer, Dr Jennifer Pugh, confirmed that Russell, the former triple-champion jockey, has a fracture of his C6 vertebrae while Kennedy fractured a collarbone.

It continued the latter’s unfortunate run with injuries following his return to action last month after breaking a leg at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.

Russell also returned to the saddle earlier this month after being sidelined with a back issue since the Galway festival.

He had been due to team up with Cheveley Park Stud’s exciting new French recruit Quilixios, an impressive winner at Compeigne in March, in a three-year-old hurdle.

The star attraction on Tuesday’s programme is Darver Star who makes his debut over fences in the opening Beginners’ Chase.

Third to Epatante in the Champion Hurdle in March, prior to that Gavin Cromwell's star was also runner-up to Honeysuckle in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

With Cromwell's regular rider Jonathan Moore unavailable, Keith Donoghue steps in to ride the horse for the first time.

“We’re happy with the horse and it will be good to get him started. We’re just hoping for a good, safe round of jumping and we’ll see what happens after that,” Cromwell reported.

“He’ll come on for the run, like all the horses do at this time of the year. He hasn’t jumped [fences] on grass yet, but he’s plenty of schooling done,” he added.