Sean O’Keeffe Grand National Wins
Sean O’Keeffe has never won the Grand National.
Their best finish to date was in 2021 with Cabaret Queen who came 9th.
|2023||Lifetime Ambition||Fence 9 - Brought Down||-||Mrs John Harrington|
|2021||Cabaret Queen||9||£10,000||Willie Mullins|
Sean O’Keeffe created early headlines as an amateur jockey, winning on just his second-ever ride, to quickly put his name in the public eye. That came in October 2017 at Punchestown for trainer Liz Doyle.
He would go on to bag another two winners as an amateur rider, aged just 18 at the time, and that was enough for him to turn his hand to the sport professionally. This would happen in August 2018, less than 12 months after his first win as a jockey.
The number of big trainers using Sean in his early years was a clear indication that many believed him to be a talented rider, and that led to winners for him. In 2020 he rode his first winner on a big stage, winning at the Dublin Racing Festival on board Éclair Du Beaufeu. That big ride was one of 27 winners that season, enough for third in the conditional jockeys’ championship in Ireland.
2021 was a big year for the emergence of O’Keeffe to the wider public, who had perhaps missed his growth. At the end of 2020, he rode out his claim with his 60th winner, so he could no longer rely on his weight allowance for rides, he had to do it from scratch, like the best in the game.
Willie Mullins has grown into a big supporter of O’Keeffe, and he is now one of the regular jockeys in the yard, and it was Mullins who gave O’Keeffe his first chance at the Grand National. In 2021, which became a big year for the jockey, more on that below, O’Keeffe would ride Cabaret Queen from the Mullins yard at Aintree.
The pair went around the course and completed, finishing a respectable 9th position in the race, which put them second out of the four Mullins entrants that year.
Partnership With Willie Mullins
He began with his first Cheltenham Festival win at the start of 2021 for a trainer that he would go on to have a great partnership with, Willie Mullins. Galopin Des Champs was the horse, who was incredibly well handicapped and came home with ease to win the Martin Pipe handicap hurdle. In September of the same year, he rode his first Grade Three winner, following that up with his first Grade Two winner in December, the latter being for Team Mullins.
He would have to wait for his first Grade One winner, but that did eventually come in 2023 when O’Keeffe landed the WarmWillow Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on board Flame Bearer trained by Mullins.
In December 2021, O’Keeffe landed the second treble of his career. Still, it was undoubtedly the most important, highlighting the partnership he had grown with Mullins and the quality of horse he was able to ride. He rode Dysart Dynamo, Energumene and Concertista to victory for Mullins that day, at the time, three of the better horses in the yard, the first winning a maiden hurdle and the last two both winning Grade Two races.
While O’Keeffe has never been a top jockey for the Mullins yard, he is a regular jockey for them, and that has led to him having a lot of success. With so many good horses running in both Ireland and the UK, and multiple entries in many big races, Mullins needs more than one jockey, so behind Paul Townend, he has a few, and O’Keeffe has become one of the most trusted of those.
That’s led to plenty of Cheltenham Festival rides, a shot at the Grand National, and many other chances in Grade One contests, sometimes on outsiders, but of course, better than not having a ride at all.