Father-and-son team land Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap with Crystal Black

Multiple Irish champion jockey Colin Keane rode a winner for his father Gerard, with Crystal Black taking the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap (2400m) at Royal Ascot on Friday.

Coming with a sustained challenge wide of his rivals, Crystal Black (11/1) went past the 7/4 favourite Ethical Diamond in the final furlong and was too good for the late-finishing efforts of runner-up Epic Poet and third Ziggy. The distances were two and a quarter lengths and a neck, with Ethical Diamond a head back in fourth.

The winner is owned by the Wear A Pink Ribbon Syndicate, made up of four friends who raise money for the Irish Cancer Society. They bought the six-year-old at Tattersalls Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale for 35,000gns in October 2022, with his win today completing a four-timer. 

Colin Keane said: “It is the most emotional I’ve felt about riding a winner. It is very special riding one for my father at Royal Ascot, and a great bunch of owners. They might not get home for a while, to be honest, but they’re dead right.

“Crystal Black has improved from run to run. We thought he’d get a mile and a half the way he was finishing over a mile and a quarter; he seems to be a horse that the longer he’s on the bridle, the better he travels, and he can quicken. 

“He is just very progressive. Coming over here, we said if it was Good to Firm we wouldn’t run, but I’ve been riding him out all week in the mornings and I couldn’t believe how well he moved on it.

“At home, he can just win a neck or head and has kept on the right side of the handicapper, thankfully. You’d imagine he’d have to move up to Group level now.

“Dad only has a small number of horses, and we’re mainly a breaking and pre-training yard now, so to have a horse like him in the yard is brilliant.”

Gerard Keane said: “I was thinking that they were going a good pace. We were travelling, but I thought we got off [the bridle] a bit early, although I knew he would keep galloping. He finished the way we thought and hoped he would, that’s the way he finishes his races. 

“That was the first time without an ease in the ground and his first time on fast ground. We were more afraid of the ground than we were of the distance, because it was his first time over the trip as well. Everything worked out unbelievably. Colin gave him a great ride. Everything just worked out great. We never even thought we would have a runner – that’s our first runner here.

“He’s a good horse. He’s a straightforward horse at home. Overall he has a very good temperament and is a very good horse. He’s very lazy in his work; if you make him work, he works well. You can work him with anything – you work him with an ordinary horse, he works beside him. If you work him with a good horse, he’ll work beside him. That’s the way he is. This was the plan. He will have a couple of weeks holiday and we shall see. I imagine Group races and Listed races, that type of thing – he’s probably finished in handicaps."

Winning co-owner Neville Eager said: “We had a horse with Willie Mullins called True Self, with a lovely girl called Breda Miley who was always with us, but she's passed away since. We raise money for cancer, and Colin rode True Self for us.

"I met Colin in Hong Kong. One night, I said to him, just for luck, can you buy us a horse and we'll go with you again. I'd say, nearly two years to the day, Colin rings me and says I'm going to buy a horse tomorrow I like at the sales. I said go on then, and he organised it.

"We've been to Melbourne before with True Self, but I don't know whether he'll go back with this horse yet. I haven't had time to catch my breath."

Epic Poet’s jockey Danny Tudhope said: “That was a cracking run. I followed the winner the whole way round and he just got a few lengths on me, but we’re delighted with that. He’s a work in progress – he was a good two-year-old and three-year-old and he just lost his form there last year, but hopefully we can get him back.”

Crystal Black wins the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap (credit: Megan Coggin)

4.25pm Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap
1 Crystal Black (Wear A Pink Ribbon Syndicate) Gerard Keane IRE 6-9-10 Colin Keane 11/1
2 Epic Poet (Akela Thoroughbred Ltd) David O’Meara 5-9-04 Daniel Tudhope 25/1
3 Ziggy (Sarabex & Aragon Racing) Harry Eustace 6-9-00 Tom Marquand 11/1
4 Ethical Diamond (H O S Syndicate) Willie Mullins IRE 4-9-01 Ryan Moore 7/4F
19 ran

Gerard Keane – 1st Royal Ascot winner 
Colin Keane – 2nd Royal Ascot winner