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Donnacha O'Brien expecting title battle with Colin Keane to go the distance

Donnacha O'Brien says retaining the jockeys' title would mean a great deal to him but expects the challenge from rival Colin Keane to be relentless as the race enters its final few furlongs.

O'Brien secured his first title last season thanks to 111 winners but trails Keane by one this year with six weeks of the season remaining.

September was a decisive month for O'Brien last year as he rode 23 winners compared to Keane's two but the battle looks set to go right down to the final day at Naas on November 3 this time around.

"Winning the jockeys' championship is a big deal and it's something nice to have on your resume, but it's going to be tough this year with Colin being so consistent and riding so many winners," O'Brien said on Tuesday.

"It looks like I have a decent chance again and I will be giving it my best shot. We will both be giving it everything and I would imagine it will be close at the end. I'm looking forward to the battle.

"There's still plenty to look forward to this season and there are plenty of big races still left to be run. The horses seem to be running very well at the moment."

O'Brien was unable to bag a winner on Irish Champions Weekend after missing the first day at Leopardstown to ride Sir Dragonet in the St Leger at Doncaster.

The Derby favourite, who finished a close-up fifth at Epsom, could only finish fourth behind Logician but O'Brien was not too downbeat about the display and suggested he may drop in trip next time.

"I thought it was a decent run from Sir Dragonet," the jockey added. "He was just a little bit keen with me the whole way. I thought I was going better than anyone else about three furlongs out. I would say we will step him back down in trip now."

Four of O'Brien's six rides were placed at the Curragh on Sunday with So Perfect coming within a whisker of winning the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five only to be deprived of victory by stablemate Fairyland.

"I thought both fillies ran great races. It just goes to show you how tough they are. They have been running consistently well at the highest level all season," O'Brien said.

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