Less than 24 hours after star chaser Keybow won the Group One Brisbane Cup at Albion Park, his Hunter Valley based owner Kel Lean was already driving back down to Sydney to start work.
The father of four flew back to New South Wales in the early hours of Friday morning, giving him just enough time to celebrate his speedster’s success in the Sunshine State with his wife Michelle.
Trained by Darren McDonald, Keybow started a $2.40 favourite to take out the Brisbane Cup. Despite his short quote, it was never going to be an easy race for him to win.
Also in the field was last year’s winner Kiss Me Ketut (Box 8), gun Queensland sprinter Iva Vision (Box 2) and sizzling beginner Exhibitionist (Box 4).
“I don’t get overly confident going into races because there is generally eight good dogs in these finals and I know how hard it can be to win a fifth grade final let alone a Group One final”, Kel said of his thoughts going into the race.
Punters expected Keybow to circle the field and lead from box seven, but that didn’t happen.
Stepping slightly tardy, the black greyhound mustered pace in the run to the first turn, a good feat considering he had Kiss Me Ketut applying pressure on his outside.
Down the back and he was looming as an ominous threat on the outside of the leader, You Can Talk (Box 3) but had to dig deep as Fusaichi Kahn (Box 6) joined the leading duo three wide, forcing Keybow into a high speed sandwich.
Keybow showed his might and determination, pushing through the pair to find the front and racing away to triumph by three and one quarter lengths in 29.98.
“He needed to do a lot of work and he needed a few things to go right for him to win that race, he was really gutsy in the end and he showed his class to get the win”, Kel said.
“It was a very tough performance and I had my heart in my mouth when they were down the back, not knowing if he was going to get spat out the back. He did well, he pushed through and he showed his will to chase.
“It was a gutsy win. There are a lot of dogs that would have pulled out if they got in a sandwich like that but he pushed through, came out the other side and ended up putting a few lengths on them.”
The Group One triumph took Keybow’s prize money earnings to a whopping $483,885. In addition to the Brisbane Cup, Keybow has claimed the Group One Perth Cup and the Group Three Silver Bullet during a career that has seen him face the starter 38 times for 18 wins and 11 minor placings.
To see Keybow going from strength to strength on the track is especially rewarding for Lean and his family because he was bred in their backyard from the first bitch they ever owned.
The son of Take The Kitty and Key Exit remains a part of the family and Kel said he hasn’t forgotten them either.
“We went down and saw him after the race and on his way home and he was happy go lucky, ready to go again, up on his toes and with his tail wagging a hundred miles an hour.
“As soon as he heard my voice his ears pricked up and the tail started going, even after being with Darren for twelve months he still remembers who I am.”
Kel said Darren will now give Keybow a few weeks off. It has been a tough campaign for the 30.8 kilogram rocket with his six runs back from a spell seeing him contest the Topgun (6th), Silver Bullet (1st), Melbourne Cup (3rd) and Brisbane Cup (1st).
“He is going to have a couple of weeks off, his fitness is there but he has had a pretty gruelling past month and a half with six pretty hard runs. After his few weeks off he will get set for Cranbourne in the new year.”
And Kel is set to enjoy the remainder of the journey with Keybow whose success has changed the lives of himself and his whole family.
“The ride has been unbelievable. It is life changing and just incredible, it still feels unreal.”