KEATING TAKES ON MENTORS IN BUNBURY BATTLE

17
Feb

After an aborted attempt previously, former harness racing trainer Pat Keating turns his hand to thoroughbreds on Wednesday.

Serving as stable foreman for Grant and Alana Williams and nearly 12 years since he left standardbreds, Keating is set to saddle his first runner at Wednesday’s Bunbury meeting.

Keating will step out Shooting Shirocco, a four-year-old mare with three placings from as many starts and formerly in the care of the Williams’, in the Byron Bay Brewery Maiden (1216m).

“It’s been something I had been planning to do for a while after leaving harness racing,” Keating told The Races WA.

“I went over and worked with Darren Weir in Melbourne with the intention of getting my license.

“When he got into trouble I came back and teamed up with Justin (Warwick) before joining Grant and Alana.

“It just felt the right time to give it a crack after thinking about doing it for some time.

“At this stage of my life it just felt like the right moment to do it.”

Keating says working closely with the powerful Williams operation and dipping his toes solo will provide the perfect balance.

“I couldn’t have done this without the help of Grant and Alana,” Keating said.

“They have been very encouraging and supportive the whole way.

“I have five yards next door to their property and I will use a mixture of their system and mine.

“Within a couple of weeks, I will have a few more horses to work with.

“I’m looking forward to it, but it’s only a dip in the water.

“I’m still very much involved in my role with Grant and Alana.

“That’s not going to change and I have no thoughts of going anywhere.”

The biggest stumbling block to Keating posting a dream debut victory could very well come from his mentors.

Shooting Shirocco is on the third line of betting ($4.20) behind the Williams-trained Reliable Star ($3.50) and Allmamoney ($3.70).

Reliable Star, a three-year-old filly, has been freshened since a debut third at Pinjarra last December.

Keating says he will enjoy the friendly rivalry.

“I think the ‘cerise and white’ is always a problem,” Keating joked.

“But the 1200m will suit my horse.

“I would like to think she could finish in the first three.”

Shooting Shirocco has drawn barrier one for Lucy Warwick.

Julio Santarelli