Racing: Kinane's status reaches Rock bottom in Chicago

By Richard Edmondson
Monday 28 October 2002 01:00

Michael Kinane will not be having the American papers sent over to his home on the Curragh this week. They do not make pretty reading for one of Europe's leading jockeys.

It is not unusual for a visiting rider to have his reputation strafed at a Breeders' Cup. On Stateside they still talk smirkingly of the day at Churchill Downs in 1998 when Frankie Dettori sent Swain swerving across towards the hot dog stall.

Now it is the turn of the man they call Mickey-Joe after Saturday's Mile at Arlington. His esteem is lying under plastic in intensive care as a consequence of Rock Of Gibraltar's defeat.

It is not the first time Kinane has been in trouble at a Breeders' Cup. Two years ago, at Churchill Downs, he fumbled his reins as Giant's Causeway settled down to fight out the Classic with Tiznow. The jockey said it made no difference. The almost pathologically non-controversial Aidan O'Brien begged to differ. It remains the only public disagreement between rider and trainer.

On Saturday, the Rock flashed past all but the French outsider Domedriver. The bullets soon started.

"Ever since international racing began we've been seeing your European pinheads lose races like this," Andy Beyer, the compiler of America's revered Beyer speed ratings, said. "These are not huge European straights yet Kinane rode as if he was at Longchamp, where you can make up a ton of ground. You just don't see a horse pass 12 others in an eighth of a mile to win here. It's a shame. To me, Rock Of Gibraltar proved his greatness today and deserved to go out with a win. Any reasonably competent American jockey would have won easily."

Privately, there were elements within the Ballydoyle and Coolmore set-up who agreed. O'Brien himself kept the faith on this occasion. "It's easy to criticise," he said. "He was drawn wide and got balked going into the first bend."

Michael Kinane can win at a Breeders' Cup. He showed that on Saturday with High Chaparral and he showed it last year with Johannesburg. There was a touching moment after the Turf, when the jockey returned to be greeted by his wife, family and parents, united under the Irish tricolour and by the tears streaming down their faces.

Overall, though, his record is poor at these international games as there have been 21 defeats along the way. Kinane is now 43 and most of the sand is in the bottom section of the hour glass. There will not be many more opportunities for him to prove he is much more than just another European pinhead.

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