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Keane: Lyons stable strength crucial in bid for first title

Colin Keane: formidable partnership with Ger Lyons this season
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It's the gift that keeps on giving. The battle for the Irish Flat jockeys' championship continues at Fairyhouse on Tuesday, with Colin Keane and Pat Smullen going head to head with eight rides and the gap standing at four.

Unsurprisingly, Ger Lyons has been the main provider for Keane, training 68 winners this season and providing 63 of the jockey's 90 successes. The 23-year-old Meath rider has also visited the winner's enclosure for 13 outside trainers.

Keane said of his red-hot retainer: "It's pretty plain and simple – without the backing of Ger Lyons I wouldn't be in this position. He's been a great supporter of mine since I've joined him and to provide me with 63 winners is fantastic."

In the case of Smullen, in pursuit of his tenth title, master trainer Dermot Weld has enjoyed a season slightly below his high standards, and the Offaly jockey has ridden 53 of his 86 winners for 22 other trainers.

Weld has provided 38 per cent of the reigning champion's victories, while Lyons has accounted for 70 per cent of Keane's wins.

Smullen's agent Kevin O'Ryan acknowledges the assistance of outside yards, saying: "We've been privileged to have so many outside trainers support us this season.

"The winners that Pat has ridden for multiple yards have obviously been hugely important in his tally for the year. We're grateful for the backing of all the stables that have contributed."

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It's pretty plain and simple – without the backing of Ger Lyons I wouldn't be in this position
E.W. Terms
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