Memorably, Townend mistakenly steered Al Boum Photo around the final fence at Punchestown last season, and the rider said: “I think I owed it to the horse!
Townend said: “I got into a beautiful rhythm and from after the first two fences, everything flowed. He jumped every fence, he’s a real warrior and galloped right to the line. It’s an unbelievable feeling. My body is tingling, I swear I’m shaking!”
An emotional Townend added: “I can’t believe it. It’s the Gold Cup, there’s only one a year and I never dreamt I’d win it. Like any race, when you’re going well it’s so simple. It’s unbelievable and I’m privileged to be riding for Willie Mullins.
“This is a dream come true and riding a first Gold Cup for him makes it extra special. I’ve been up at his place since I’m 17 and he has given me every opportunity in the world. Winning this race is what you dream about as a young fella and I’m genuinely speechless.
“You need a stayer to win this race and when Ruby picked Bellshill this horse was always going to be my choice. Getting into an early rhythm is key around here and we jumped the first circuit very well. Everything went well and I was able to weave in and out of the fallers going around.
"You need plenty of luck as well and I guess today is Mr Donnelly’s day as well as myself and Willie. My father Timmy and sisters Caroline and Jody are here while mam is looking down on us.”