Foley impresses on first day in new job and has sights set on title challenge
Everybody wants to impress the boss on their first day in a new job and Shane Foley did just that when steering Still Standing to victory in the Listed Devoy Stakes at Naas on Sunday and now he is hoping his new alliance with Jessica Harrington can help him mount a challenge for a first jockeys' championship.
The 31-year-old has finished in the top ten for the last eight seasons, with his best campaign coming in 2015 when his 64-winner haul saw him finish third in the title race.
Having parted company with Michael Halford, Foley helped himself to 58 winners last year in his first full season as a freelancer and, with a top stable like Harrington's backing him, he wants to follow in the footsteps of 2017 champion Colin Keane.
Foley, who won last year's Irish 2,000 Guineas on Romanised, said: "Last year I was freelance and still had a really good season so hopefully now that I have the backing of Jessie, I can give the title a go. Every jockey would love to be champion. My weight is good and I'm hoping for a big year.
"It is obviously early days but Colin Keane showed that it can be done a few years ago so he gave us all hope, although it will be tough with Aidan [O'Brien] having such a strong team as always."
The jockey added: "I was thrilled to team up with Jessie and she has a very good team for the season ahead. She has a terrific string of two-year-olds in particular and hopefully there are some nice ones in there.
"Two others I'm looking forward to are Trethias and Whirling Dervish – I don't think we have seen the best of either of those yet."
FOLEY'S TITLE CHALLENGES
2018: 58 winners (fourth)
2017: 44 (sixth)
2016: 51 (seventh)
2015: 65 (second)
2014: 40 (seventh)
2013: 50 (fourth)
2012: 61 (fourth)
2011: 38 (ninth)
2010: 23 (14th)
2009: 33 (12th)
2008: 19 (19th)
2007: 5 (30th)
However, it was Still Standing who got Foley off to a perfect start at Naas on Sunday, and he is predicting big things for the imposing son of Mastercraftsman.
"When you get a new job you want to hit the ground running and that's what happened at Naas. It was great. Even though I never rode him on the track last year, I always loved Still Standing at home and he never really got the ground he wanted last year," Foley said.
"You saw on Sunday what he can do when there is cut in the ground. He cantered the whole way around, and apart from getting a little bump which lit him up a bit, everything went smoothly. He's a very nice horse and you'd be hoping he's Group class.
"The Alleged Stakes [April 13, the Curragh] would look an ideal race for him now and he could go there next."
Paddy Power have Foley as a 20-1 chance for the Irish championship with last year's winner Donnacha O'Brien the 1-4 favourite.
Irish Flat Jockeys' Championship
Paddy Power: 1-4 Donnacha O’Brien, 7-2 Colin Keane, 7 Chris Hayes, 20 Shane Foley, 33 Declan McDonogh, 40 Ronan Whelan, 66 Kevin Manning, Wayne Lordan, Shane Crosse, Billy Lee, Seamie Heffernan, 100 Leigh Roche.
Get ahead of the game with Get Your Eye In - exclusive Saturday preview content on racingpost.com and the Racing Post mobile app from 2pm on Friday