Keane can secure potentially decisive edge over Smullen at Fairyhouse
Title challenger is 2-9 favourite to lift title with less than two weeks to end of season
Jockey Colin Keane has a lead of four over Pat Smullen coming into the Fairyhouse showdown. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
The battle for the jockeys championship moves to Tuesday’s rescheduled Fairyhouse fixture where Colin Keane could secure a potentially decisive edge.
Keane already has a lead of four over Pat Smullen (90-86) with less than two weeks of the season to go and both have full books of eight rides each at a meeting postponed from Saturday due to high winds.
It is one of just seven fixtures left and with Smullen missing this Saturday’s Leopardstown fixture due to suspension, his 23-year-old rival is a 2-9 favourite to secure a first senior jockeys title.
Three of Smullen’s rides are for his boss Dermot Weld and Alaykha in particular is likely to prove a popular fancy in the mile and a half fillies maiden.
She may find Decision Time a tough opponent, however, and even though Keane’s eight rides don’t include any from the Ger Lyons’s yard, Noel Meade could step in with a couple of good chances for his fellow Meath man.
The six furlong Nursery may emerge as another of the Keane-Smullen showdowns that have enlivened the back end of the season with the topweight Art Of Unity taken to edge out Ellona.
Art Of Unity disappointed when well backed over this course and distance last month but put up a much more encouraging display when subsequently third at Naas. He should appreciate the extra furlong, is tried in first-time blinkers and has a stall one draw.
Keane also rides Weightfordave for Meade in the first division of the mile and a half handicap and there was enough in his last effort at Dundalk to suggest he can go close in an ordinary contest.
Smullen’s opening mount Stellar Eclipse couldn’t get near Kenya at Cork but that horse proceeded to land Sunday’s Group Three Killavullan Stakes. Bronze Age, however, could edge him under Shane Foley.