Decorum on hold as winning syndicate paint Royal Ascot pink

Special scenes as Colin Keane wins Buckingham Palace Stakes for father Gerry

Horse Racing - Royal Ascot 2024 - Ascot Racecourse, Ascot, Britain - June 21, 2024 Crystal Black ridden by Colin Keane celebrates after winning the 16:25 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Syndicate owners of Crystal Black, ridden by Colin Keane, celebrate after winning the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot (Reuters via Beat Media Group subscription)

By James Toney at Royal Ascot

Tears flowed, top hats flew and - for a few heady moments at least - decorum went totally out the window.

Crystal Black's victory in Royal Ascot's Buckingham Palace Stakes was one of those special stories that racing does better than anyone else.

In the sport of Kings, just down the road from the home of a King, this was a big win for the ordinary racing fan, who dares to dream big.

It was a first Royal Ascot runner for trainer Gerry Keane, in the hands of his Champion Jockey son Colin and an emotional day for the members of the Wear a Pink Ribbon Syndicate too.

Perhaps it was written in the stars, all the fashion pundits are saying pink is THE colour this year.

The celebrations that followed the win were the best we've seen this year but there were also tinged with sadness for a person not there to join in the bedlam.

Neville Eager - who leads the syndicate with Herbie Stephenson, Conor Duffy and Tom Fallon - paid tribute to close friend Breda Miley, a regular racing companion who died from breast cancer but in whose memory they now follow the sport.

"We're just a small group of lads who love our racing, we're normally at Punchestown, not Royal Ascot," he said.

"Breda is up there looking down on us today and we're all so emotional about that.

"It was some ride from Colin and his father is an unrecognised genius. I wasn't nervous about it, I was quietly confident. I always believe in this jockey."

This is what ownership is all about, a builder from Armagh and a farmer from Tullow pinching themselves at their moment in the spotlight on their sport's grandest stage.

While the win was special for the owners, it was just as memorable for the Keanes, who have been integral to this improbable journey.

“It’s the most emotional I’ve felt about riding a winner," admitted the Champion Jockey.

"It’s very special riding one for my father at Royal Ascot, and a great bunch of owners. They might not get home for a while, to be honest, but they’re dead right.

“Dad only has a small number of horses, and we’re mainly a breaking and pre-training yard now, so to have a horse like him in the yard is brilliant.

"I can't put it into words what this means for my father, but it's a very special day."

Gerry Keane is now one from one with Royal Ascot runners while his son did so much more than just sit in the saddle, his keen eye first spotted the horse at a training sales.

"I was in a bar in Hong Kong and I was chatting to Colin, I told him if he ever came across a nice horse that he wanted to buy to give me a call and I'd have it train with his dad," added Eager.

"Two years later he rang me and that was how we got Crystal Black. He brought him home, freshened him up and he's given us some tremendous moments.

"We won last year at Irish Champions Weekend, which is our big moment in Irish flat racing. To win here at Royal Ascot, that's just unbelievable."