TO be regarded as a world-class jockey, a requisite is winning the biggest races around the world. We all know Colin Keane is a world-class rider but perhaps the racing world outside Britain and Ireland hasn’t fully appreciated the Meath native’s talent. Yet.

For sure, they got a taste of it when he was called upon to ride Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, guiding the mare to a famous win at Keeneland, but ‘outside’ opportunities in Group 1s abroad have been few and far between for a rider of his talents. Indeed, he has yet to win a Group 1 or Group 2 race in Britain. And we know the biggest races mean a huge amount to Keane. Remember when he gave up two weeks of domestic rides to quarantine just to get back on Siskin in the Sussex Stakes?

For all these reasons, today is a big day for our champion, back on Westover in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes (3.35), still one of the biggest races on the world calendar. Keane, controversially in some circles, took over from the colt’s regular rider Rob Hornby in the Irish Derby, and has been kept on him today. His ride at the Curragh was nothing special, indeed it was very simple, but sometimes those are the best rides, the ones where you don’t even notice the jockey.

It might get more tactical today, with just five other rivals, and different pace angles, but Keane will be ready for that. He should relish the challenge at Ascot.

Frankie Dettori has always relished the challenge at Ascot. But he couldn’t live up to that challenge at the royal meeting, subsequently admitting that it the worst Ascot of his 35-year career.

He would have had a gilt-edged opportunity of riding a first Group 1 winner for the Gosdens since the ‘sabbatical’ on Emily Upjohn in the Irish Oaks last Saturday, but a bird strike to the plane that was due to carry the filly over the Irish Sea meant it never got off the ground and she was rerouted here. That is a great fillip for this race and while the filly has a bigger task on her hands today, it’ll very much lay a ghost for Frankie if he can land this Group 1 at his favourite track.

Taking on the three-year-olds again is Mishriff, but again, the main angle to his story today is his rider, or lack of in the case of David Egan, who has been jocked off presumably for a discontent towards his efforts on the five-year-old in the Eclipse, where he just failed to get by Vadeni having encountered traffic problems.

That might be harsh on the jockey as it’s difficult to say for sure that another rider wouldn’t have had such passage trouble, but it’s not difficult to suggest Mishriff was indeed the best horse in the Eclipse. James Doyle takes over and again, Mishriff plays an important role as the top-class older horse to measure the three-year-olds against.

He was second to Adayar in this race last season, when many concluded he didn’t see out the trip, but Adayar was an excellent winner on the day, and we don’t for sure yet about this year’s Derby crop, whether they match or surpass that standard. We will know a lot more just after 3.35.

O’Dwyers hopeful of combining for another win at Gowran

CONOR and Charlie O’Dwyer combined for a winner at Tipperary last Sunday and they’ve fair chance of adding another today with the returning Virtual Hug, who takes his chance first divide of the extended nine-furlong handicap (5.10).

The four-year-old hasn’t been seen since last October but was in winning action for that most recent start, scoring in a maiden hurdle and that makes him very interesting today off a mark of 61 back on the level.

“He’s working very well and in great form,” O’Dwyer senior said. “I kept him back just because the winter ground wouldn’t suit him and he had a few little setbacks but he’s ready to go now.

“It’s probably not the strongest race and if he had a run under his belt, I’d really fancy him but he does have a good record fresh so I wouldn’t be surprised if he got his head in front either.”

Charlie has already ridden four winners over hurdles this summer, well on target to beat his total of seven in his first season riding over jumps last term.

“He is flying and gaining confidence all the time. The important thing is he’s not going too quick through his claim and he’s getting lots of experience riding for other trainers.”

Elsewhere at Gowran Park today, Michael Browne is hopeful The Cola Brasil can back up an impressive win at Fairyhouse but was disappointed the six-year-old took a hike in the weights for that performance.

He takes on the second divide of the seven-furlong apprentice handicap (3.30) and the Tipperary trainer said: “He’s in good form and he came out of the race well but the draw back is that he got 13lb of a rise. We’ll have to put up with it now. I just hope they water the ground well enough, he doesn’t like real fast ground.

“He’s a very big horse and had been running green on his first couple of starts this season. But he finished out his race very well at Fairyhouse when he was second last turning in and that took some doing in a big field. I think he’ll improve from racing.”