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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Keane brings up half-century to go 1-2 for jockeys' championship

Colin Keane, currently leads the way in the Irish Flat Jockeys' Championship
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Galway often witnesses Pat Smullen pulling away in the Flat jockeys' title race, but a quiet week for Dermot Weld meant Smullen emerged from the meeting still adrift of the pace-setting Colin Keane. 

Keane continued his sensational year at Galway, bringing up a half-century of winners on Bubbly Bellini and soon making it 51 for the campaign on the final day of the Ballybrit festival.

Paddy Power rate him 1-2 for a maiden championship, with Smullen seven winners adrift in second.

Keane said: "I'd been hitting the crossbar and it was brilliant to get to 50 winners - I was starting to wonder whether I was ever going to reach 50 after trying to get to it for the last couple of weeks."

40 year-old Pat Smullen is bidding for his tenth title

Keane, 22, added: "It'd be a dream come true to become champion jockey and it's something everyone would aspire to be when they begin in this game.

"I never thought I'd be in this position at such an early age but it's certainly where I want to be."

Weld was quiet by his own standards and managed two winners at Galway – one over hurdles and the other with Leigh Roche aboard – as did his number one jockey Smullen courtesy of other trainers.

"It's never over until it's over," said Smullen of the title, for which he is an 11-4 shot to retain. "I've a battle on but am by no means out of it.

"We'll be giving it a real rattle between now and the end of the season. If I win, brilliant, and if not then I'll deal with it."

Smullen, 40, bagged a double at the Curragh on Monday but added in reference to the Weld stable's quiet patch: "We'll be hoping that the string can click back into full gear – we need to have a strong backend of the season to stay in the game, and that's what I'm hoping for."

Irish Flat jockeys' title

Paddy Power: 1-2 Colin Keane (51 winners), 11-4 Pat Smullen (44), 8 Kevin Manning (42), 25 Billy Lee (40)

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It's never over until it's over, we've obviously realised that we've got a battle on our hands but we're by no means out of it
E.W. Terms
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