“Winning isn’t everything, but it beats anything that comes in second.” Northern Ireland born; ex-Jockey Jason McKeown retired from the saddle a few years ago; not for the reason that he was no longer fit-for-purpose but because knew he was too good to be riding bad horses.
Riding notable winners throughout his career in France, Norway, USA, Germany, Sweden, McKeown was often deemed as one of the finest jockeys on the Northern Irish horse racing circuit.
Never shy, McKeown hit the newspaper headlines back in 2008 for a controversial victory at Cheltenham when he dropped his whip when riding the Gordon Elliott-trained Hoopy. Quick-thinking McKeown convinced another rider to lend him his whip when he was well out of contention at the time, McKeown conjured up a triumph when it appeared improbable and gave the race-day stewards plenty to talk about in the process – it was a masterclass in the saddle by McKeown with all things considered.
Now residing in Newry, McKeown has set up an Equine Dentistry business – which is keeping him more than busy, he has kindly given us a few of his thoughts for this week’s Cheltenham Festival; you could do a lot worse than writing down a few of his fancies for your Colossus bets pools this week.
Speaking exclusively to Darren O’Conghaile for Colossus, Jason McKeown said: “My Cheltenham festival bankers would have to be the JP McManus owned Defi Du Seuil in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He’s not the biggest in the world but he has so much scope, he’s just up for it – that’s what you love with good two-mile chasers. Defi Du Seuil is set to take on the likes of Altior, and Chacun Pour Soi which could make it the race of the festival”
He added; “Tiger Roll is almost unopposable in the Cross Country race. Bar a rogue pulling him down at one of the fences I suppose this duel-grand national winner will saunter to success with minimal fuss, he will be very short in the betting but he seems to be the one they all have to beat”.
McKeown is relatively keen on chances of Gordon Elliott trained Chosen Mate as his best value place bet of the week. He said; “He will likely be entered up in one of those handicaps during the week – I have been impressed with him thus far and I think he is on a competitive mark to feature and on the evidence of his recent win he is going to the festival in-form and needs respecting”.
We questioned McKeown on who he considers is an underrated jockey going into the Cheltenham festival this week, which he responded promptly; “Keith Donoghue is very underrated. This fella is a top-class rider, – it is well documented Donoghue is a big fella and battles with his weight, given half a chance, he will shine.”
When asked what it takes to win at the Cheltenham festival, McKeown replied, “You need a horse with a lot of ability, and a jockey with a desire to win.”
Let’s hope McKeown selections will help us to tackle the huge Place 6 pools during the festival.
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