Dermot Weld hails champion Pat Smullen as professional’s professional

Jockey rode 100 winners for the first time in claiming seventh title

Champion jockey Pat Smullen (right) with champion apprentice Colin Keane during racing at Leopardstown. Photograph:  Donall Farmer/Inpho

Champion jockey Pat Smullen (right) with champion apprentice Colin Keane during racing at Leopardstown. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Dermot Weld hailed Pat Smullen as the “professional’s professional” as the rider picked up his seventh Irish champion flat jockeys’ title at Leopardstown.

Smullen and Weld have enjoyed another outstanding campaign, teaming up for big-race success with the likes of Free Eagle, Forgotten Rules, Mustajeeb and Pale Mimosa.

As well as Mustajeeb in the Jersey Stakes, Smullen rode 100 winners for the first time and also struck at Royal Ascot on Anthem Alexander in the Queen Mary for Eddie Lynam and the demand for his services shows no sign of declining.

Weld said: “He deserves it, he is a professional’s professional, that’s the best thing I can say about Pat Smullen.

“His work ethic and his work-rate is huge, he deserves the success he gets.”

Smullen said: “It’s been a brilliant year. From start to finish, it’s been really good.

“The horses have been running consistently and that’s the most important thing in an achievement like this.

“Needless to say I couldn’t have done it without the support of the boss and all the owners.

“The slate is wiped clean now, however, and we have to start all over again!”

Colin Keane was crowned champion apprentice, with a healthy advantage over Leigh Roche, making up for a near-miss 12 months ago when edged out by Connor King.

Keane said: “It’s brilliant. I’m still a bit disappointed to have been beaten by three last year, but I won it well this time.

“My number one goal was to beat last year’s tally of winners. Luckily I did that and thankfully won the championship at the same time.

“I wouldn’t be here without Ger (Lyons) and the whole team back home.”

Several possible Classic contenders were in winning action at Leopardstown with leading trainers Weld and Jim Bolger making positive noises in regard to next season.

While Bolger’s Parish Boy (7 to 2) reached Listed status in confirming his superiority over Order Of St George in the thetote.com Eyrefield Stakes, the Sheikh Hamdan-owned Zawraq made quite an impression on his debut in the thetote.com EBF Maiden.

Sir Isaac Newton, Aidan O’Brien’s son of Galileo, cost 3,600,000 gns as a yearling and was sent off at odds-on, but despite travelling well for the majority of the race, he could not get past Zawraq (3 to 1), who battled on well to fend off his more illustriously-bred rival.

Smullen said: “We were hopeful coming here and we were hard at it from a long way out, but to do that into a strong headwind is very pleasing.

“He put his head down and despite Seamie (Heffernan) knocking my whip out of my hand he battled back well. That might have been a blessing in disguise actually as we think an awful lot of him and I didn’t want to be giving him too hard a race. I can see him performing at a high level over a mile next year.”

Weld said: “He’s potentially a high-class colt. We’ll look to a Guineas trial next spring and let him tell us what way to go with him. He was a big, backward horse and took time. He had a head cold about a month ago and that held me up. That’s why he’s just appearing now.

“He’ll learn a lot from the race and hopefully there is plenty of improvement. You’ll find the first two are very nice colts.”

Parish Boy (7 to 2) had beaten the O’Brien 7 to 4 favourite Order Of St George by three-quarters of a length at Naas back in August, and this time it was a half-length with the Godolphin-owned colt closing him down after missing the break.

“He had a touch of shins, but that all came right in the last two months,” said Bolger.

“I see him as a Guineas horse and the rest, and he’ll maybe follow the same schedule as his sire (New Approach), with a little more definite planning about it. He’s a good type of horse.”

Willie McCreery has made a name for himself this season with Fiesolana and another of his mares was to claim a black type prize in the Listed thetote.com Knockaire Stakes.

Kanes Pass (16 to 1) has been a thorough improver and came with a wide challenge down the outsider under Billy Lee to go past Seanie and Witches Brew, while last year’s winner and 7 to 2 favourite Francis Of Assisi closed to finish a length second.

McCreery will fly to America with Lee on Monday in order to finalise the preparations for Fiesolana herself in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, the trainer joking his jockey would get lost otherwise.

“She’s an honest little filly and has improved all year. She leads Fiesolana and deserves that in her own right,” said McCreery.

Willie Mullins has long established himself as a more than capable trainer of Flat horses as well as dominating the National Hunt scene and he clinched a good prize on the level with Clondaw Warrior (16 to 1) holding on grimly in the Tote November Handicap.

“I had a couple of little goes at him going down the back because I thought he was plodding and the twice I did he picked up well,” said jockey John Egan.

“I knew well before the turn he was going to win.”

Mullins was not at the track, but speaking by telephone he said: “My only instruction to John Egan was to get him switched off and to settle him, as he ran too keen in the Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh the last day.”

O’Brien’s Easter (3 to 1) made progress from her debut second at Navan and is expected to make up into a middle-distance performer after breaking her duck in the Tote Pick6 Races 1 To 6 European Breeders Fund Fillies Maiden

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