Championship appears sealed as Keane rides 99th winner

Colin Keane’s 99th victory of the season on Persian Queen at Naas appears to have clinched his second jockeys’ title.

Keane, who previously won the Flat championship in 2017, holds a lead of seven over his nearest challenger Shane Foley after they rode one winner each on Sunday.

On a card which saw With Thanks take the Group Three honours in style for William Haggas, in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Athasi Stakes, Foley was successful on Taipan in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden – and then in the closing Naas Maiden, it was Keane’s turn again.

Both jockeys are in action again on Monday at the Curragh, where Keane has six chances to ride his 100th winner of the campaign and Foley has five booked rides, before both head off a day later to the Breeders’ Cup Festival in America and therefore bid farewell to the domestic season.

Away from their title battle, With Thanks was most impressive for Haggas and jockey Chris Hayes – who was completing a double.

Second to Onassis in a Goodwood Listed event last time out, before that the filly had won a small race at Catterick – and Haggas believes that confidence booster helped her in the long run.

With a Group Three win now in the bag, whether she stays in training next year will solely be up to owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum.

With Thanks (2-1 favourite) relished the heavy ground and beat Silk Forest by five lengths.

Haggas said: “She won easily. Chris gave her a lovely ride, and she loves the ground.

“I don’t know if she stays in training. We were going to make that decision after today – it will be up to Sheikh Rashid. We’ll decide in the next week or so, but she won’t run again this year because that is job done.

“It wasn’t probably a strong race, and she is a fresh filly too, so it wasn’t rocket science that she won.

“It’s (travelling) just not an easy thing to do at the moment, because you are out of control, and I’m very grateful to Richard Brabazon who took her over yesterday morning and for taking her to Naas for us.

“She was a breeze-up horse but she’s light-framed, doesn’t need a lot of racing and needs conditions in her favour. She’s done well, because she got beat at Thirsk but went to Catterick and won – which built her confidence up – and she ran a good race last time.”

Hayes had earlier won on what is likely to be John Oxx’s last ever winner at Naas when Storm Legend (6-1) quickened smartly in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

Hayes said: “He’s a nice horse. Mark McStay bought him for clients of his and put him in with Mr Oxx, and I believe he’s going to Fozzy (Stack). Thankfully they gave me the opportunity to ride him.

“He travelled with ease. He was a bit green early on – but when I gave him a squeeze he took off. I’d be looking forward to having him for next year.”

Ado McGuinness has almost run out of superlatives for Saltonstall (6-1), who got a dream run up the rail in the Listed Glencairn Stakes.

The six-year-old has taken his form to a new level in recent weeks, and devoured the very testing ground.

Saltonstall was also sporting meaningful colours.

“I ran him in Bart O’Sullivan’s colours, because he died a year back two days ago,” said McGuinness.

“I’m dedicating the whole thing to him – because without him, I wouldn’t be here today. He got me the owners and got me going. The O’Sullivan family got me involved with the Dooleys.

“I’m just thrilled to bits that the horse has done it. He’s such a warrior of a horse – because he had his problems before we got him – but when he’s right he’s a serious horse.

“Gavin (Ryan) has been brilliant on the horse all year and hasn’t put a foot wrong. He got a dream run up the rail.

“He’s won on all types of ground and is just a fabulous horse to have. We’ll probably give him a break now, and look forward to next year with him.”

Jessica Harrington’s Taipan (7-1) provided Foley with a valuable winner in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

“He was never travelling at any stage – but that’s him,” said Foley.

“He’s a bit like that at home, but he’s going to be a lovely staying horse for next year.”

Unfortunately for Foley’s hopes, though, Keane returned fire – getting home by a head on Noel Meade’s 10-1 shot Persian Queen at the end of the card.

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