MOST jockeys would bat away any suggestion that they’re paying much attention to the jockeys’ championship at this relatively early stage but Billy Lee doesn’t mind having a look every now and then. And why wouldn’t he? The Limerick native is two winners clear of champion Colin Keane in the Irish flat jockeys’ championship with 36 winners and on track for his best ever tally in 2022.

“I might not be there for too long so I don’t mind having a look while I am,” Lee said. “Look, the few yards I ride for in are good form. Paddy Twomey is having a really good year. Willie McCreery is in good form, Ken Condon’s horses are running well and the same for Michael Grassick so it’s all carrying over. I don’t think I’m riding any differently or anything, it’s just the momentum is there at the moment and long may it continue.”

Lee is an 8/1 shot with Paddy Power to be champion jockey, against the long odds-on Colin Keane, but ahead of Ryan Moore, who is 10/1. Both those jockeys have the back-up of significant yards, while Lee is dependent on many yards.

For instance he has a ride in every race at Limerick today, for seven different trainers. In all he’s ridden for 40 different trainers already this year. History suggests you need the backing of a big yard but Lee has plenty of ammunition at the moment and, if he can stay in the hunt until the autumn, he could well pick up additional support.

It’s a tricky card at Limerick today but Lee will probably be disappointed not to come away with a winner.

“Mary Salome (4.25) has a chance,” Lee said. “She ran well at Listowel and if she can back that up, hopefully she’ll go close. She’s still on a good mark and if the ground isn’t be too quick she should be thereabouts.

“Inventor (2.40) has a chance as well. He’d be fine on good ground, which it should be and he’s in good form, finishing third the last twice so he should go well.”

Lee’s best chance is probably his final ride, Marhaba Ashmayme (5.30), whose gone relatively close to winning on all three of his starts for the in-form Ken Condon.

“We thought he would win last time at Gowran,” Lee said. “He has blinkers on tomorrow and hopefully they’ll sharpen him up enough and he can get the job done.”

Son of Frankel

One of the more interesting runners on the Limerick card today is Surac (3.15), a son of Frankel no less, and who runs in the well known ‘double green’ colours of predominantly National Hunt owners Isaac Souede and Simon Munir.

Winless in three starts for Clive Cox last season, he he had his first start for Richard O’Brien at Gowran Park on Monday and ran a promising race to finish fifth.

“He ran well and I was happy with him,” O’Brien said. “With natural progression and a good draw you’d be hopeful he’d be competitive. The problem with those three-year-old handicaps is there’s plenty of horses lurking around but I’d be hoping he’d be one of them, he might be one of those horses that can find himself and really progress but sometimes it can take a few runs. I’m looking forward to running him.”

O’Brien, whose National Hunt horses have been going well, is hoping his flat team can gather some momentum in the coming weeks. He has three other runners on today’s card.

“Cleveleys (2.40) showed plenty on his first run for us. He’s got a bad draw and that’s going to make life difficult but if he repeats Wednesday’s run hopefully he’ll be competitive but I’m a little bit pessimistic on the basis of the draw.

“Satono Chevalier (4.25) had a little bit of a slowdown after his last run. He has problems with his feet but we feel as if we have him back right. We’re just looking for him to get his foot back on the ladder without any expectation of fireworks.”