The race for Champion Jockey is going down to the wire as just a solitary victory separates Shane Foley and Colin Keane at the top of the table, writes Will Jennings.
Comeback king Keane hauled himself back into contention after six wins last week and three more in the last seven days means a hair’s breadth separates the two red-hot riders.
Foley - Jessica Harrington’s retained jockey - endured a barren spell at the end of September but four wins this week sees him narrowly edge out Keane on 76 at the summit.
The 33-year-old has boasted a commanding lead for the bulk of the season and while Keane’s searing form prompted talk of a late wobble, Foley has got back to winning ways in style.
He banged in a brilliant hat-trick at Navan on Wednesday aboard Inflection Point, Laelaps and Newgirlintown, while Keane could only muster a single winner in the form of Ger Lyons’ Alarm Call.
Keane got his week off to a flyer at Dundalk last Friday, however, piloting Lyons’ Frenetic and stablemate Marchons Ensemble to a pair of victories to temporarily usurp Foley’s lead at the top.
The two heavyweights exchanged blows across a topsy-turvy week but Foley’s win on Sacred Rhyme at Thurles sees him narrowly take the lead heading into the weekend.
Irish Champion Stakes hero Seamie Heffernan rode two winners at Thurles - on Aidan O’Brien’s Salsa and Evening Primrose - and sits third in the standings on 55 victories, while Wayne Lordan lies fourth just five wins behind.
The youthful Billy Lee is fifth on 46 but it’s Foley and Keane who continue to steal the show as the tension hots up at the top of the table.