Dean sweats it out over his 'Oscar' again

He's been there before but he still hasn't got the T-shirt, so veteran jockey Dean McKeown is hoping he will finally achieve some lasting recognition at tonight's Lesters Awards in London.

He's been there before but he still hasn't got the T-shirt, so veteran jockey Dean McKeown is hoping he will finally achieve some lasting recognition at tonight's Lesters Awards in London.

His feats in riding Collier Hill to success on three continents last year has earned him two nominations at the jockeys' equivalent of the Oscars.

"I'm delighted to have got nominated for two categories following my wins in Sweden, Canada and Hong Kong which have been the highlights of my career," says McKeown. "However, I've had a few nominations before and never won anything."

The 46-year-old freelance, based at Monk Fryston in North Yorkshire, insists he has always been a happy passenger on the globetrotting Collier Hill, adding: "He does his own thing. He is so tough and doesn't know when he is beaten."

McKeown rode his first winner at Teesside in 1977 on Jackalla and was Crown Plus Two Champion Apprentice five years later.

Before Collier Hill arrived on the scene, his highlights included winning the Cambridgeshire three times, breaking the five-furlong track record on Orient at Ascot, and enjoying a fruitful partnership in the summer of 2002 with Hugs Dancer in the Cumberland Plate, Goodwood Stakes and Tote Ebor.

McKeown is one of four nominees for the Flat Ride Of The Year and that was judged on Collier Hill's victory in the Canadian International in October. His mount was at full stretch to hold off Go Deputy by a nose.

It was by the same margin that he forced Collier Hill home in the Hong Kong Vase in December which came too late to be considered for the 2006 award but could feature in the Lesters Awards next January.

Come March, McKeown and his tried and trusted equine friend will be off to Dubai again for another crack at the Sheema Classic, in which he has already finished second and third, for a rematch with Kastoria whom he narrowly outpointed at Sha Tin.

The eight-year-old already held the record for the most prize-money won by a British-trained gelding before his Hong Kong triumph and his earnings now stand at £2,306.585, plus £10,576 over hurdles.

His trainer Alan Swinbank, from Melsonby, is the first to praise McKeown for the part he he has played in the rags-to-riches tale of his stable star who started his racing life with a debut win in a Catterick bumper.

"Dean gets a good tune out of the horse and they know each other other well," he said. "Some horses go better for certain jockeys and that's certainly the case here."

McKeown faces tough opposition to the Flat Ride Of The Year from Frankie Dettori (Electrocutionist, Dubai World Cup), Martin Dwyer (Sir Percy, Epsom Derby) and John Egan (Admiral, Chester Cup).

If McKeown fails to get sufficient votes in that category, he must have strong claims for the Flat Jockey Special Recognition Award which also has fellow northern-based riders Dale Gibson and Gyles Parkin on the short-list along with Richard Quinn.

Graham Lee, now with Ferdy Murphy at West Witton in Wensleydale, is among the nominees for the Jump Jockey Of The Year which include champion Tony McCoy.

Northern hopes in the Apprentice category rests with Paul Mulrennan while Phillip Makin, attached to David Barrons' Maunby yard, is nominated for the Best Ride Award for his neck victory on Onyergo at Musselburgh in August.

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