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Murtagh expects title race to go right down to the wire

THE race to be crowned Ireland's champion Flat jockey continues at Dundalk this evening with just four meetings remaining.

Four-time champion Johnny Murtagh goes into this evening's card three winners in front of his rival and six-time champion Pat Smullen, with both looking to have decent chances on the card.

Two meetings at Dundalk and two at Leopardstown conclude the season, and Murtagh is hopeful of regaining the prestigious crown. "To be champion jockey in Ireland means you've been very consistent through the year, and the highlight for me would have been dead-heating in the Irish St Leger on Jukebox Jury," Murtagh said.

"That was my first win in the Irish St Leger and I have now won all the Classics over here. I have a three-winner lead in the championship but I won't take anything for granted and it will be flat out until the very last race."

Smullen, who won his sixth title last season, is hot on Murtagh's heels and holds two strong claims this evening.

The Offaly native said: "I've had a great year and the boss's horses have run consistently well for me.

"I'm still three winners behind Johnny and it's going to be difficult to peg him back, but I'll most certainly be giving it my best shot."

Murtagh has clearly enjoyed his new role, based back with John Oxx as first jockey to the Aga Khan, and Murtagh could team up with that duo for one of his better chances this evening.

In the concluding race at 9.15pm, the www.dundalkstadium.com Maiden, Ariyfa will be likely to build on a positive maiden at Naas back in August to win on her first start since.

Elsewhere on the card, a tentative vote is given to Michael Halford's Eastern Rules who, despite a 10lb hike in the weights, could be good to make it two wins on the bounce.

Smullen, however, is also a man to follow tonight, with good chances on English raider Fishforcompliments and the Pat Flynn-trained Hangar Five.

Like most English raiders, Richard Fahey's Fishforcompliments may find himself ahead of the handicapper in the bookings@dundalkstadium.com Handicap after a Musselburgh win.

There may be a double for the raiders as Fahey's What About You could run well from the bottom of the handicap in the previous race on the card.