Belfast Telegraph

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All square in title race

Gary Carroll and Ben Curtis look like taking their battle for Ireland's apprentice jockeys' title to the wire after both got among the winners at Dundalk.

It was Curtis who took the honours, completing a double to draw level with Carroll on the 39 mark with just two meetings to go on the all-weather track as they enter the final week.

Joseph O'Brien drew a blank, but he won't be giving up hope either even though he has a lot of work to do with 35 winners to his name.

Defending champion Carroll struck the first blow when Sampers took the Group Discounts At Dundalk Stadium Race.

The Michael Halford-trained 2-1 favourite chased Calm Bay throughout the contest and collared him 100 yards out to score by a length and a quarter.

Halford said: "That's a help to Gary. He works very hard and is a hell of a good rider. It would be nice if he could go on and win it. It's a hard thing for a 3lb claimer to do, riding all year with just the 3lb, especially against a good crop.

"This mare deserved that as she's been consistent. We might try her again next season. It would be great to get some black type. There is a race for her here next Friday and she might come back for that."

O'Brien was expected to pull one back with hot favourite Amazing Beauty in the first division of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden, but the Ballydoyle newcomer's effort fizzled out.

Instead it was Curtis who swooped to win by a length and a half on John Murphy's 16-1 outsider Valbonne.

The best was saved until the last race, when Curtis and Carroll went head-to-head through the final furlong before the former prevailed by a length on the Garvan Donnelly-trained Home Secretary.

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