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Apprentice Dakota Keane has guided Herbert Park to her first metropolitan win at Sandown

Trainer Tony Noonan was as excited for the metropolitan breakthrough win of apprentice Dakota Keane as the young rider herself at Sandown.

The Mornington-based horseman has had a number of apprentices go through his stable over a long period of time and had no hesitation in declaring Keane will make the grade.

Having only her second ride in the metropolitan area, Keane partnered Herbert Park ($6 betting) to win the Become An MRC Member Handicap (1200m) on Wednesday by three-quarters-of-a-length from La Casona ($6) with Kate’s Tiara ($16) a half-neck away third.

Noonan said he had pleaded with Keane to delay becoming a jockey after she had shown outstanding skills as an amateur boxer.

He relayed the story of how Keane had pestered him to join his stable, and it was only after studying her fights that he relented.

Noonan said he received a call from Keane’s former boxing coach saying that she had the potential to go to the Olympics.

But Noonan said Keane had her heart set on becoming a jockey and the trainer has held her back in a bid to not to get to run through her claim too quickly.

“She’s the second female apprentice I’ve had, and she has been just superb since she joined us,” Noonan said.

“She has a great work ethic, but more importantly she has a positive attitude and has been a breath of fresh air for this old bloke every morning.

“She still has a long way to go, but to see her develop, it is fantastic and to get that first city win, I’m really happy for her.”

Herbert Park had to overcome a wide draw on Wednesday and Noonan said it was Keane’s patience that won the filly the race.

“What I like about her at the moment, she thinks about what she is doing,” Noonan said.

“She drew wide, got into a good spot and then nursed her before she had to go for her.

“She’s heading in the right direction.”

Noonan said Herbert Park was also a work in progress, a lot like her apprentice rider.

“She worried me today as she got very hot in the yard,” Noonan said.

“She’s a bit like Dakota, she’s tough and a work in progress, but I think there’s still good improvement to come from her.

“She can do things wrong, and overcome it, so it’s a good sign going forward.”

*Existing customers only. 2nd Racing bet. Excl SA & WA. T’s & C’s apply. Gamble responsibly.
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