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Article 27th September 2022 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

Apprentice jockey Aidan Keeley admitted being “ecstatic” despite being lost for words following the biggest success of his career aboard when making his first ride at Newmarket a winning one aboard Majestic in Saturday's bet365 Cambridgeshire Heritage Handicap.

The fledgling jockey defied his relative inexperience in the saddle when delivering the 25-1 chance with a perfectly timed run to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Brian Rouse, who landed the historic handicap aboard Baronet in 1978 and 1980.

Out of the picture for much of the race the Conduit gelding only appeared on the scene in the dying strides of the nine-furlong prize which looked to be heading the way of the William Knight-trained Dual Identity who burst clear under Andrea Atzeni on the far side.

However, Keeley and the Mick Channon-trained Majestic had other ideas with the pair powering through to forge on inside the final 50 yards to defeat the equalling fast -finishing Bell Rock by a length and a quarter.

The 21 year old rider said: “He travelled well into the race and travelled really strong. He is one of those horses that you are not too sure if he finds much with the way he travels.

“Once I had to come more over to the centre from where I was drawn it opened up nicely for me. When I let him off the bridle he did find plenty and galloped straight through the line. He has done it nicely and was off a low enough mark.

“I’m ecstatic you know. This is by far the best winner of career. I don’t really know how to put it into words.

“All the help I’ve had with the jockey coaches and my family and for Mr Channon for given me the ride. There are a lot of people behind it and I’m just the one riding the horse.

“It was my first ride on any track at Newmarket. It was a thrill riding here in itself let alone going back with a winner and being the Cambridgeshire. I can’t put it into words.

“It is a handicap that always throws up big winners. No matter what price you are you are thinking you have half a chance if the luck goes right and today it has.

“I am based with Gary Moore down in Sussex and got into racing when I was 16. I do have a racing family background and my grandfather Brian Rouse won this race twice on Baronet (1978, 1980).

“Coming into the race I was happy enough to just have a ride so to win it is a real thrill and given me an absolute buzz. There are plenty of targets I would love to achieve and was one of them. Credit to Mr Channon as he is a very good trainer, especially with these handicappers. I am very thankful to him and the owners for giving me the opportunity.”

Not only was the victory the most significant of Keeley’s career so far, but it also provided triumphant owner breeder Nick Hitchins.

He said: “It is his distance and he stays every inch off that. Okay he had luck in running but he has had an easy life so far as four months ago he was an unraced four year old. That’s probably it now and we will call it a day for the season now.

“It is a tough race and when some friends were asking me about it I said if you ran it 20 times you would get 20 different winners. It is that sort if race and frankly things have got to fall for you which they did.

“I could see on the screen what I thought was him and it was as he has very distinctive colours. Who knew what an apprentice would do in a race like that but he did well.

“It’s the biggest race I’ve won - as simple as that.”

There was further success on the card for both Andrew Balding and William Buick who combined to good effect to take the Blandford Bloodstock Maiden Fillies’ Stakes with Vermilion.

Having finished third on both her previous starts the daughter of Kodiac went two places better when getting the better of fellow 3-1 joint favourite Mubhijah by a neck under Buick, who was early on the mark aboard Lezoo in the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes.

Balding, who was early successful with The Foxes in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes, said: “It was well deserved and she was given an excellent ride. She relaxed really well in behind in the hood and was strong at the finish.

“I think that will be it for the season but we will discuss it with the powers that be. She gained plenty today. I think that (Oh So Sharp Stakes) comes a bit tight.”


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