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Watching brief

PAT SMULLEN trailed Joseph O'Brien by three in the jockeys' championship going into yesterday evening's Down Royal meeting, with the Ballydoyle jockey as low as 1/5 to top the pile at season's end.

In light of the depth of ammunition that he has at his disposal, the teenager is undoubtedly in a strong position to land the title for a first time.

Nonetheless, as Davy Russell, Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes would attest, title races are never straightforward and a lot can happen between now and the Leopardstown finale on November 4.

For all O'Brien's firepower, he has not yet been able to shake off the six-time champion.

Smullen won't go down without a fight and, at up to 7/2 in the market, is the smart bet in a two-horse race.

Irish Independent