Orr two clear but Leonard not going down without a fight
Irish apprentice championship contender Killian Leonard has vowed to “throw the kitchen sink” at the closing days of the season as he bids to catch Oisin Orr, who leads the race by two winners.
The complexion of the apprentice series changed when Ana O’Brien, then clear leader on 18 winners, suffered a season-ending injury at Killarney in July. Orr now leads the way on 20 winners and Leonard is level with O’Brien.
But Leonard, who has seven rides at Dundalk on Wednesday, said: “I’m going to throw the kitchen sink at trying to peg Oisin back, but I’m fully aware it won’t be easy. I’ll be doing everything in my power to be champion.
“Winning the title would mean a huge amount, but I haven’t really been thinking about it – I haven’t considered winning or losing.
“If I got closer and there was one between on us on the last day I’d be thinking about it, but if it was taking up my thoughts it might have an effect on my riding – trying to make things happen rather than letting them happen.”
“I’ve been brilliantly supported since I started riding. I think I rode for 106 different trainers last year and I wouldn’t be too far off it again this year.”
Orr, who has six rides at Dundalk, said: “If it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t happen there’ll always be next year, but after getting this close I’ll obviously be hoping I can keep in front. Hopefully I can have a winner at Dundalk, but Killian has some good chances to peg me back.
“It’s unfortunate for Ana, as she probably would have won but for her injuries, but that’s racing.
“It’s been a great year from my point of view and winning the Cork Derby on Moonmeister was brilliant, although it was great winning on the legend Ted Veale at Listowel too.”
As with the senior jockeys’ title, for which Colin Keane is seven ahead of Pat Smullen with three meetings left, the apprentice champion will be crowned at Naas on Sunday.
Gary Halpin, who has four rides on Wednesday and is three adrift of Orr on 17 winners, said: “It’s been a really good season, but it’s probably a tough ask at this stage to say I’ll claw back three winners, although I have some nice rides over the coming few days.
“Oisin would be a deserving winner should he hold on. As a tall rider he wouldn’t be the lightest, but he works hard and is a very good rider.”
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