Smullen will need to evoke the spirit of '89 if he is to pull off title comeback
It's not quite the equivalent of an unassailable clubhouse lead but Colin Keane will make for Dundalk tonight knowing that he is on the verge of being crowned champion jockey for a first time.
Mathematically, the reigning nine-time title-holder Pat Smullen could still deny him, but to do so would require a grand finale even more outlandish than when Michael Thomas scored that iconic second goal to deny Liverpool First Division honours back in 1989.
Without a win in 19 rides, Smullen is left facing a deficit of 10, meaning he has to outscore Keane by 11 in the 14 remaining races that they can ride in at Dundalk and then Naas on Sunday.
At the all-weather venue two days ago, Keane plundered another treble to leave him three short of a first century, which would be another fantastic achievement should he get there.
Smullen, by contrast, had to settle for four second-placed finishes.
It looks beyond him, and Ger Lyons, who has played such a pivotal role in supplying Keane with such a consistent feed of winners all year and who had the vision to appoint him stable jockey three years ago, has felt comfortable enough to declare the job done. It probably is.
Still, if Smullen is looking for inspiration, he need only peruse those final climactic weeks of the seminal 1989-90 football season.
An on-fire Liverpool had won six on the bounce en route to that epic showdown at Anfield. Arsenal, in contrast, had only three league games to play in the same timeframe yet they dropped five points at home.
They looked a busted flush, but Liverpool, still reeling from the Hillsborough disaster, had won the FA Cup a week prior to the Anfield decider and seemed to have all the momentum.
All they had to do was not lose by two or more goals at home, and we all know what happened next. Sporting miracles do happen.
97 wins 87 wins
Race Jockey Mount Odds
5.30 Keane It's Two O Clock 6-5
Smullen Rachel Ruysch 3-1
6.00 Keane Pillar 10-3
Smullen Peace Mission 4-1
6.30 Keane Il Piccolo Grande 6-1
Smullen Yamato 15-2
7.00 Keane Samuel Phelps 9-1
Smullen Light Laughter 4-1
8.30 Keane Rivellino 5-1
Smullen Little Clarinet 20-1
9.00 Keane Here For The Craic 20-1
Smullen Muniza 11-4