LISGOOLD jockey Paul Townend warmed up for today’s Randox Health Grand National with a win at Aintree that edges him closer to regaining the champion jockey title he last held in 2011.
The Corkonian was victorious in the Gold Cup last month and will be on board last year’s Grand National runner-up Pleasant Company in today’s race, where Youghal’s Davy Russell and Tiger Roll are favourites to triumph once more.
Yesterday Townend and Cadmium led his rivals a merry dance in making nearly every yard of the running over the Grand National fences in the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase at Aintree.
Racing over the furthest trip he has encountered in his career, he was certainly not stopping going over the line.
Wearing the Supreme Horse Racing Club colours carried to victory by Kemboy in the Bowl 24 hours earlier, this time it was Townend on board, with the Gold Cup-winning rider also on the verge of being crowned champion jockey in Ireland to cap a dream year.
Sent off an 8-1 chance, Cadmium beat Sub Lieutenant, with Doitforthevillage third and Jannika fourth.
But there was a sad postscript to the race when Forest Des Aigles, who was in second at the time, broke down and was pulled up after jumping the last. It was subsequently confirmed he had suffered a fatal injury.
It was a quickfire double on the day for Willie Mullins after the victory of Min in the JLT Chase.
Mullins said: “That was impressive — impressive from horse and rider.
“The horse was in great form. Paul said he ran away with him on the way to the start and he just let him on in front and he enjoyed his jumping. It was really, really impressive.
“I thought Paul was just letting the horse do what he wanted to do. He wasn’t forcing the pace. I was just worried whether he’d stay, but he did.”
Asked whether he could be a National contender next year, the trainer added: “Looking at that you wouldn’t think so. I think he’d run too free.
“His jumping was so good and I think we’ll just keep him at that sort of trip.”
Meanwhile, Barry Geraghty will miss his ride on Anibale Fly in the Grand National after suffering a broken leg in a fall from Peregrine Run in the Topham Chase at Aintree yesterday.