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Press Release 18th March 2023 Cheltenham

By Ben Cox

Fresh from winning his third Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup yesterday, it was business as usual for jockey Paul Townend today with three rides at Thurles.

The success of Galopin Des Champs yesterday added to the 32 year old’s two previous Cheltenham Gold Cup wins on Al Boum Photo (2019, 2020), meaning that only the late Pat Taaffe has ridden more winners of chasing’s Blue Riband in its 99-year history. Taaffe was successful on the great Arkle (1964, 1965, 1966) as well as Fort Leney (1968).

After his success on Flame Bearer in the Grade Three Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase at Thurles today, Townend reflected on Galopin Des Champs’ triumph 24 hours earlier.

Speaking to Racing TV, Townend said: “It is every emotion winning the Gold Cup. Winners at Cheltenham are brilliant but winning the Gold Cup takes it to a different level. Going into the Gold Cup with the pressure of riding the favourite made the success just that little bit sweeter.

“It was messy early and I didn’t get a good start – I was further back than I wanted to be and didn’t get a clear passage early with horses jumping left and right which kind of put my lad off a bit. But he got in a rhythm after that and bar one or two slight mistakes on the last circuit, he jumped very well. When I needed one at the last two, he was brave and took off for me.

“He is ideal. I couldn’t believe it when we went to Punchestown the first day this season – I was kind of afraid to ask him any question in case it lit him up. I learnt more in Leopardstown the last day (before Cheltenham), when I asked him at the fence going away from the stands to see if that was going to spark him up and make him run keen but was he straight back (to being relaxed) with a loop of the reins. He has the class, and you can put him wherever you want.

“It is not too often you finish as strong as he did in a Gold Cup and to come from where he did. But I suppose they had gone hard and Bravemansgame and been up with them the whole way. I actually could believe I had won by seven lengths when I came back in - he definitely hit the line strong.”

Townend ended the week with five winners at The Festival and he collected The Craft Irish Whiskey Co. Leading Jockey Award for a third time. He has now ridden a total of 28 Festival winners.

He continued: “We’ll take all we can! It was brilliant, a good meeting and it’s nice to be leading rider there again. I suppose you are expected to be when you are leading rider for Willie (Mullins) and with the ammunition he brings over but it doesn’t always work out like that.

“It’s a tough week. There aren’t too many people putting their hand up to share a house with me put it that way!”

The jockey’s quintet of winners all came in Grade One contests on horses trained by Willie Mullins and also included Lossiemouth (JCB Triumph Hurdle), Energumene (Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, which he also won in 2022) and Impaire Et Passe (Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle).

Townend said: “Lossiemouth was very good. She got keen at the wrong time but when I let her go on she took her breathers and I thought she was actually value for a couple of lengths. I was hanging on waiting for something coming to the last but when I asked her, she galloped away from them.

“Energumene brought his ‘A’ game and would have been very hard to beat. Edwardstone obviously didn’t fire, but whatever happened I thought he was as good as if not better than the year before. After riding him in the Clarence House I was looking forward to having another go at them and Willie had him spot on.

“Impaire Et Passe was good. I was able to zip into the gap when Danny (Mullins) went right and off the bend he quickened up the hill and popped the last really well. He finished the out race like a good horse does in Cheltenham.”


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