THE upcoming three days of action at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival could have a major bearing on the outcome of the Irish National Hunt Jockeys’ Championship, and layers are making reigning champion Paul Townend an odds-on chance to reel in Jack Kennedy and retain his title.

Despite Kennedy leading the standings on a scoreline of 115 to 108 before the Easter feast of racing, the Betfair Sportsbook have priced up Townend as the 1/2 favourite to emerge on top by the end of the season. Kennedy, chasing his first title, is available to back at 6/4.

The current championship leader was handed a total of six days in suspensions from the British authorities over two careless riding breaches at the Cheltenham Festival, and that has ruled him out of today’s action. However, Kennedy heads to the Co Meath venue tomorrow for seven rides.

Of Townend’s 262 rides in Ireland this season, 258 have come for Willie Mullins, with the remaining four split between Jessica Harrington, Gavin Cromwell and Cian Collins. That means it is a rare outside ride for the six-time champion jockey on the Tom Cooper-trained Butcher Hollow in today’s Tom Quinlan Electrical Maiden Hurdle (2.10) - one of four mounts for him on the card ahead of six back at the same venue tomorrow.

Betfair’s Barry Orr said: “This is going right down to the wire and as we’ve seen in some tight trainer’s title battles over the years, the Mullins powerhouse rolls right through to the Punchestown Festival. They both have serious backing but our traders think Paul Townend will just have a bit too much come Punchestown and turn things around.”

As for the Irish flat jockeys’ championship, which began earlier this month at the Curragh, Colin Keane is the 2/5 favourite to notch up his sixth title. Billy Lee, runner-up last term, is a 3/1 shot from Dylan Browne McMonagle at 7/1 and Ryan Moore at 10/1.