Rebel treble brings redemption for Midleton jockey Townend

Rebel treble brings redemption for Midleton jockey Townend

CORK jockey Paul Townend was delighted to be back in the news for the right reasons after steering Pravalaguna to success in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle at Punchestown on his way to a treble, following up with wins on Patricks Park and Next Destination.

Next Destination with Paul Townend up. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Next Destination with Paul Townend up. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

The former Irish champion jockey endured an afternoon to forget on Tuesday when his dramatic final-fence manoeuvre aboard likely winner Al Boum Photo in the Growise Champion Chase led to him picking up a 21-day suspension for dangerous riding.

Midleton native Townend, who was also ordered to forfeit his riding fee, later revealed he thought he had to bypass the obstacle and in doing so took out the Colin Tizzard-trained, Robbie Power-ridden Finian’s Oscar as he steered his mount across the track.

Making his first appearance in the saddle since, Townend rode a cool race aboard the Willie Mullins-trained 11-4 chance Pravalaguna and she ultimately eased to a comfortable eight-length success over Not Many Left.

Pravalaguna and Paul Townend on their way to winning. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Pravalaguna and Paul Townend on their way to winning. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

“That takes a bit of weight off my shoulders. I just want to put yesterday behind me now and move forward.

“I have a lot of good people behind me and that means a lot in this game.”

Townend’s error of judgement left The Storyteller in front in the hands of Davy Russell and he would go on to lead home a one-two-three for Mullins’ title rival Gordon Elliott.

Speaking after Pravalguna’s success, Mullins said: “It shows you the mettle of the man as Paul was under a lot of pressure going out there and he was very cool the whole way.

“I’m delighted to see that what happened yesterday didn’t shake his confidence. He’s a popular guy and that showed in the reception he got.”

Paul Townend on Patricks Park in red clears the last. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Paul Townend on Patricks Park in red clears the last. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Mullins turned the tables on Gordon Elliott in spectacular fashion at Punchestown on Wednesday overall and is now the red-hot favourite to claim a 12th Irish trainers’ championship after an incredible six-timer.

Mullins started the Festival €521,413 behind his big rival, with Elliott €405,839 at the end of Tuesday.

However, Mullins promised he would not give up his crown without a fight and roared back in scarcely believable fashion, highlighted by a one-two in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup, and at the end of play he remarkably led by €48,161.

“We’ve got a tremendous bunch of owners, a tremendous bunch of jockeys and tremendous stable staff so we’re delighted.”

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