There has been a huge amount of recent speculation surrounding the most coveted job in Irish racing, the number one jockey role at Ballydoyle. The rumours got louder last week, with Paddy Power making Colin Keane the 1/6 favourite to land retained rider spot.
Ger Lyons, Keane’s current retainer, has been quick to say that no conversations had been had on the subject internally. With Keane recently riding a few winners for Aidan O’Brien in recent weeks, it’s only helped add fuel to the fire.
Personally, I do believe that Keane would be the perfect fit to join the ranks. As such, I’ve created the list below, of 5 reasons why I believe, Keane should replace Ryan Moore!
Winning the Flat Jockey’s Championship in 2017, Keane is a special talent and a workhorse at that. It looks as though he’s going to reclaim the crown in 2020 too, currently leading the way by six winners. It would be a special achievement for Keane, who can boast of a 16% strike-rate from 592 rides this year. You only have to look at his figures for the past few years, to realise just how much graft Keane has put in:
- 2015 – 65 winners (14% strike-rate from 461 rides)
- 2016 – 77 winners (14% strike-rate from 540 rides)
- 2017 – 100 winners (14% strike-rate from 609 rides)
- 2018 – 82 winners (12% strike-rate from 661 rides)
- 2019 – 103 winners (15% strike-rate from 700 rides)
- 2020 – 97 winners* (16% strike-rate from 648 rides)
*Season still in progress
One thing Ballydoyle needs is consistency. They’re sending out top-class horse week in and week out, and they need a jockey who can, 98% of the time, give them the best possible chance to win.
Keane is just that jockey and his figures since 2016 are consistency personified. His strike-rate has remained between 12% and 16% in the past five years, despite riding a huge amount of horses. Whether it’s a handicapper, or a Group 1 calibre horse, Keane seemingly always gives his mounts the best possible chance of victory.
He rises to the occasion
Given the calibre of horses that Ballydoyle has at their disposal, they need a big-game player. A five-time Group 1 winner, Keane is just that.
It’s been a season to remember for Keane at the highest level, winning the Irish 2000 Guineas, Irish Oaks and Matron Stakes in a standout year. In total Keane, has ridden eighteen pattern winners for a plethora of different yards. No matter the occasion, Keane rises to the challenge and puts his best foot forward.
He’s still improving
At the age of 37, Ryan Moore likely has plenty of years left at his peak. Regardless of what people may think, Moore is a world-class jockey with a record that proves it. That being said, Keane is eleven years his junior and his ceiling remains unknown.
It looks increasingly likely he’s going to recapture the jockey’s championship, with a record number of winners to match. He needs just 6 more winners to equal his best, which would once again outline his improving profile as a top-jockey.
Ballydoyle wants the best
At the end of the day, Ballydoyle want the best tools they can get. Ryan Moore has been just that in terms of jockeys in Ireland for the years he’s been their top jockey. There’s a case to be made to say that he’s still just that and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you if you believed so.
That being said, the gap between Moore and the rest has all but vanished, and in my opinion, Keane is the best Ireland currently has to offer. He’s consistent, he’s classy, he’s talented and above all else he could be even better with further experience.
With the best horses underneath him, Keane could transcend to new heights, and I hope he gets the opportunity he deserves.