Colin Keane (blue/white) and Pat Smullen (yellow) battle out a tight finish at Dundalk last week
©Healy Racing Photos
By Alan Magee
Dundalk has provided some dramatic twists over the past few weeks in the Flat jockeys' championship battle between Colin Keane and Pat Smullen and the pair go head-to-head again on the Polytrack on Friday.
Keane appeared to strike a significant blow with a treble here a fortnight ago but Smullen is certainly not going to give up his title lightly and went one better with a four-timer last Friday.
Keane is currently three ahead (84-81) and the pair both have a full complement of seven rides on the evening, with the apprentice handicap being the only race they will have to sit out.
The Al Basti Equiworld Carlingford Stakes is the feature event but the title protagonists may have to play second fiddle in this Listed race behind Goldrush.
The Jim Bolger-trained filly is supremely bred being by Frankel out of multiple Group One winner Alexander Goldrun, and the China Horse Club had to go to 1.7 million to secure her as a yearling at Goffs.
A number of minor issues delayed her appearance until an impressive debut under Kevin Manning at Navan last month over a mile.
This extended 10-furlong trip should be within her compass, and it is not surprising she switches to the all-weather as Bolger stressed after her debut win that she does not want soft ground.
Michael Halford provided Smullen with three of his winners last week, and the same combination have a number of strong contenders again.
Andesh could set the ball rolling in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C & G) Median Auction Maiden, while Katiymann also has prospects in the Crowne Plaza Race & Stay Package Handicap.
Keane will fancy his chances in the latter mile event aboard the Ger Lyons-trained Room To Roam, while both riders have strong contenders in the two divisions of the Crowne Plaza Leading Jockey & Trainer Championship Handicap.