Smullen in good Company
This day last week Colin Keane travelled to Dundalk with a four-winner lead over Pat Smullen and a few hours after arriving at the all-weather the Irish Jockeys Championship was all square.
Keane restored his lead by one before the evening was out and after a treble at Gowran Park on Wednesday he'll start this evenings meeting three in front in a battle that is now attracting a wider audience, and rightly so.
Smullen could have the edge again tonight. His association with Mick Halford, especially in recent weeks, has proven extremely fruitful and they can land the opener with Andesh.
The horse is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time but has the form in the book to make it third time lucky in the colours of the Aga Khan.
Smullen's other live chances on the card are the Adrian Keatley-trained Quiet Company, who caused a big upset when winning last time but runs in a similar contest here and only has a 5lb hike to defy in the ratings. Jock Talk for Gordon Elliott in the last would have his chance too.
It would be something of a concern that neither Smullen nor Keane opted to ride the selection of the 7.00 at Dundalk as both riders have ridden Jon Ess before for Conor O'Dwyer.
However, they may rue not opting for him tonight as he returns to the all-weather.
Jon Ess, named after the late John Shortt, may have just found the ground a bit on the easy side on his last few starts but Dundalk's surface can see him run a big race at decent odds.
Goldrush is given the nod for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning in the feature race. The 1.7m yearling purchase won nicely on debut at Navan and can back that up by landing the listed Al Basti Equiworld Carlingford Stakes.
This afternoon Downpatrick will stage their final meeting of the year and Jack Kennedy looks the man to follow up there.
The youngster was among the winners for Gordon Elliott yesterday and has decent chances on Monkshood in the maiden hurdle and the hat-trick-seeking Poormans Hill in the following handicap hurdle.
Tranquil Magic makes the trip north again for Colin Bowe and he can back up his win here last month, while Knockraha King can get his in front after the narrowest of defeats at Tramore recently for Adrian Maguire.