LISGOOLD Jockey Paul Townend sealed his fourth Irish champion jump jockey title after moving onto 100 winners for the season on Friday evening.
Gaillard Du Mesnil provided him with that century victory by picking up a two and a quarter length win in the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle after rival Bob Olinger was a late withdrawal.
“It’s brilliant,” remarked a beaming Townend of retaining his crown. “I’ve been doing a bit of sweating the last couple of weeks. I’m riding for the champion trainer, so I’m probably supposed to be champion jockey. It’s nice to be it though.
“The momentum Rachael had coming out of Cheltenham. Then when I saw her doing what she did in Aintree. Everything was happening for her.
“I was lucky I had the support of Willie and his team. Ruby Walsh is a big part of it still. David Casey is very helpful to me at home and Patrick Mullins as well. And the rest of the jockey. we all work together as a team. A lot of work went into getting me here and thankfully we’ve produced a couple of winners.”
Townend only returned to action at Punchestown on Tuesday following a foot injury, but he rode a winner on each of the first two days and enjoyed a double on Thursday as he reaffirmed his grip on the championship.
Blackmore did land the feature Paddy Power Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle, as expected, but it was not enough to take the title race into the final day. She failed to add to her tally on her four other rides.
Townend had big shoes to fill having taken over from the retired Ruby Walsh — the leading jockey in Cheltenham Festival history — as number one rider for Willie Mullins. In fairness, he hasn’t let supporters down and it’s been an incredible couple of years.
In 2020, Townend was champion jockey, he won the Gold Cup and was leading rider at Cheltenham. In the past 40 years, only Ruby Walsh (2009) and Tony McCoy (1997) can say they have done that treble in the one season.
Townend was still a teenager when he became second jockey and had his first ride at Cheltenham in 2010. He had a winner for Arthur Moore in 2011, but had to wait until 2015 for his first festival win for Willie Mullins.
And even then, it came in the shadows. Glens Melody was coming to the last a well-held second in the Mares Hurdle when Walsh and Annie Power had one of the most famous falls in Cheltenham history.
All anyone wanted to talk about afterwards was the fact that it saved the bookies 50 million quid.