Keatley Positive On New Beginnings

Adrian Keatley | Racing Post


   Four years ago next month, The Curragh was reverberating with the shock of seeing Ballydoyle's luminary Minding (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) narrowly denied in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas. Carrying out the upset was the diminutive Jet Setting (Ire) (Fast Company {Ire}) sporting the colours of the barely-known Equinegrowthpartners Syndicate and trained by the little-known Adrian Keatley. Ditched from the Richard Hannon stable for just 12,000gns at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale the previous October, she was raised from an official rating of just 85 by her Kildare-born and raised trainer and ended up the property of the China Horse Club for £1.3-million less than eight months later.

Despite that flourish of headline-grabbing success just two years into his training career at The Curragh, Keatley saw fortune largely evade him. Bar the encouraging trajectory of the Hong Kong-bound London Icon (Ire) (Elzaam {Aus})–who was to be renamed Classic Beauty–in 2017 and 2018, mostly the horses and more importantly the bigger owners failed to materialise.

“Jet Setting was a second-hand filly bought for extremely small money and she was kind of a miracle,” Keatley said on reflection this week. “They don't tend to happen twice and unfortunately the syndicate we had didn't want to buy the better types of yearling the next autumn and that was basically it. A lot of the owners and trainers in Ireland have significant financial strength behind them and for me, that client wasn't there.”

Keatley is now based in the historic training centre of Malton in North Yorkshire, with a minor string including two jumps winners from his first two runners before the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented. He offered an insight into the current situation in his profession. “Luckily for me, I don't have major overheads so on a personal note I'm not too worried, but we're all obviously hoping that the situation can become clear at the end of this month. If it doesn't, things could change in a lot of people's businesses,” he states. “We just have to stay positive and be ready for whatever we are asked to do. It's very unsettling times full of sad news, so we can hold our excitement.”

Overall, the dual-purpose handler who had spent his formative period with Francis Flood, Dermot Weld, Oliver Kiernan and Chris Waller, is content with his lot as he approaches a new phase of his career. “We moved over after Christmas and couldn't have got off to a better start before everything stopped, but racing isn't life or death,” he adds. “I have a career in sport and am very lucky and very privileged. There are lots of opportunities here and I had to say to myself that maybe Ireland wasn't the place for me. I read an interview with Mick Kinane last year and he was talking about how you had to position yourself outside of your comfort zone to improve yourself and that applies to all walks of life.”

Keatley is geared up for what will be a restart in more ways than one. “We have an exciting syndicate that was ready to shop at the breeze-ups and hopefully that will still be there when it comes,” he says. “I'm surrounded by good people and when we get the stock in the door, I'm confident that I can prove myself again doing things a little bit differently. I was young enough to be able to come over here and rejuvenate my career and we have big plans in the pipeline.”

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