GBI RACING

Pat Smullen closes gap in thrilling title race after Dundalk four-timer

Colin Keane on Thunder Crash (blue and white) deny Pat Smullen on Bold Knight

Pat Smullen is now just one winner behind Colin Keane in therace to be crowned this season's champion Flat jockey in Ireland after riding a 193-1 four-timer at Dundalk on Friday evening.

Keane led his rival by 80 winners to 76 heading into an eight-race card in County Louth, but there was nothing to choose between the pair for a while after Smullen rode four consecutive winners.

The highlight of the four-timer was victory aboard the Mick Halford-trained Riyazan (11-4) in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Star Appeal Stakes.

Smullen said: "That gives me hope. Both myself and Colin would never be resting on our laurels, and we'll be trying until the last day.

"It's a good battle and hats off to Colin as well, but tonight was important to get back into the hunt.

"There are one or two days I'm going to miss with horses travelling, like Sunday when I'm in Belmont, so it's important to have nights like tonight.

"I think it will go to the last day and we'll be working exceptionally hard between now and then."

Smullen rode a further two winners for Halford, with 8-11 favourite Smugglers Creek landing the seven-furlong maiden claimer and 13-2 shot Hunaina scoring readily in the seven-furlong fillies' handicap.

The second of his four winners was aboard Militry Decoration (3-1) in the nursery, trained by Michael O'Callaghan.

Smullen and Keane went head-to-head in the concluding race and after a thrilling tussle in the final furlong, it was Keane who gained a narrow success aboard 7-2 favourite Thunder Crash, beating Smullen and Bold Knight by a short head.

The title race now heads to Limerick on Saturday, where both jockeys have several rides.

Smullen has won the title nine times, including in each of the last three years, while Keane is bidding for his first championship.

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