Out of exile: Col keen on Sydney return

Col Keane banned himself from NSW racing for the past three years but the exile will be broken when boom New Zealand two-year-old Vinnie Eagle tackles the Inglis Classic at Randwick on Saturday.

The plumber, who has served on club committees and raced horses for 30 years, didn't like the direction the industry was taking and moved his interests to Victoria, Macau and finally to New Zealand.

“There were things I didn't think were right happening, so I decided to do my racing elsewhere,” Keane said. “I had one with Guy Walter about six months but got rid of it pretty quick, other than I'm not interested in racing here.

“I have been to racing for a long time and it will be the first time I have been to the new Randwick set-up on Saturday.

“I have been racing in Macau for few years and I met [Vinnie Eagle's trainer] Tony Pike in New Zealand like him, so he has about half a dozen horses for me.

“Only two of them have got to the racing so far, Allez Eagle is a three-year-old that we have had a couple of good offers from Hong Kong for and he is likely to come over here in the autumn and Vinnie Eagle, which is unbeaten.”

Vinnie Eagle, which Keane secured for $65,000 at the Inglis Classic Sale, was I Am Invincible's first winner on the track at Ruakaka in September.

It was the first sign of a star freshman stallion and Vinnie Eagle backed it up in the Eclipse Stakes on New Years Day at group 3 level.

“This is the race you target when you buy a horse at the Classic Sale and it was always in our plans,” Keane said. “He has done everything he has had on the track but we haven't off it. I didn't realise that I had to register here.

“Because we bought him in Australia I thought it was done but the paperwork has been put in and should go through on Monday, so that he can run on Saturday.”

Keane admits the form from New Zealand is often hard to match up with that in Australia but the early indications were that Vinnie Eagle was pretty smart.

It led the owner to back the stallion, which was revelation at the Magic Millions sales where he sold yearlings for up to $440,000 on a $240,000 average.

“As soon as we put this bloke down we knew there was a bit of talent there,” he said. “I rang Yarraman and booked in two mares to I Am Invincible [at an $11,000 service fee] and after last week that looks [like a] pretty good investment.”

Keane and Pike haven't looked beyond Saturday but Vinnie Eagle isn't nominated for the Golden Slipper.

They will use Saturday as a measuring stick against the Australian two-year-olds.

“He won very well with his ears pricked last time, it was a group 3, but you don't know how he will go over here,” Keane said. “Leith Innes has ridden him at both his starts but he can't make the trip over . . . we have been able to book another Kiwi in James McDonald.

“Tony will work [Vinnie Eagle] at home on Wednesday before he flies over that night, so we trying to keep things as normal as possible.”

The story Out of exile: Col keen on Sydney return first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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