There have been rumours coming off the tabletop for a while now that apprentice jockey Nick Keal has been getting a bit too big for his boots, and judging by his ride in race 5 yesterday at Ipswich aboard Miss Cavallo, and the bullshit excuse for it that he gave to the Stewards, I suspect that they might just be correct.
Miss Cavallo was the second favorite in the QTIS 3YO fillies race at $3.30, a point behind her main rival Joilette at $3.20 in the betting.
The filly began from barrier 6, and we are assured that Toowoomba trainer Michael Nolan gave jockey Keal clear instructions to go back at the start and settle her midfield, one off the fence. This is no surprise, given that throughout her sixteen start career prior to yesterday, the filly has always without fail been settled back in the field, and allowed to run on.
For reasons known only to himself – and perhaps to a select group of his friends; if the Stewards are good enough (which I doubt) they might find out – Nick Keal completely disregarded trainer Nolan’s instructions, and punched Miss Cavallo out of the gates.
He told the Stewards that he didn’t, saying that the filly just began well for the first time in her life, but even a cursory glance at the replay shows that Keal’s talking shite. He kicked that horse up, there is no doubt in the world. It began about sixth or seventh, but with a quick pump of the reins by the rider, there it was up in the first three after they’d gone just 50 metres.
To be fair, Keal did have a quick look over his shoulder to see if there was a 1-1 spot he could pop into, but to be even fairer, he was travelling two to the pair on his inside’s one as he was doing it, and at no stage showed the slightest indication that he really had any idea in mind other than to land himself outside of the leader.
If looks could kill they probably will, Peter Gabriel famously pronounced, and in Keal’s case its the look that did. Not that one, but the look a few furlongs later at about the 600m mark, when the jockey took a sustained peek over his shoulder to see where the favourite Joliette was.
Joliette was in the box seat third the fence exactly where Keal had put it, and was travelling like a dream.
A smart jockey – and Keal has hoops intelligence, don’t worry about that, even if the brains don’t seem to extend much further than that – would have done his damnedest to slam the door shut and keep his nearest rival in a zip fastener, especially one who could see that there was clear air for the main danger to slip through and up onto his back if he took off too early.
Against all common reason, Keal decided to put his foot down. At the 600m mark.
Joliette of course followed through on its back, hooked around and loomed up to win.
As it did, Nick Keal did something real, real strange to help the fave on her way.
He tugged hard left on Miss Cavallo’s rein, causing his horse to turn her head sharply to the left, just as he’d old her to do by tugging the rein.
Of course Keal being a rule abiding apprentice jockey, he had to stop riding the filly for a stride or two and straighten her up, which cost her all momentum for long enough to let her rival in the betting market sail on by and win the race.
Have you ever been out to Blackall and bathed in the sulphur water, or walked around Rotorua and watched the steam rise out from the ground?
That’s what this race smells like.
Nick Keal’s ride smells worse.
And the Steward’s total lack of aptitude just stinks.