Paul Townend claims top jockey honours at Cheltenham Festival

Published 2020/03/17

Paul Townend claims top jockey honours at Cheltenham Festival

Jockey Paul Townend made it two in two years as he rode Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo across the finish line on the final day of the race meeting. It was the second time in as many years that the duo had won the Gold Cup and hopes are high in the horse’s camp that next year will see a third consecutive victory in the race. Horse racing punters are already growing with excitement over Al Boum Photo’s chances of winning the Gold Cup in 2021. Punters can visit to get a bet bonus on the race before wagering on the horse they believe will win the Gold Cup.

The Gold Cup capped off a brilliant horse race meeting for Townend. The jockey, who is the go-to rider for Willie Mullins, won five times at the Cheltenham Festival to take home top jockey honours. Townend took over as Mullins’ No. 1 jockey after the 2019 retirement of Ruby Walsh. The Irish jockey was regularly the top rider at the Cheltenham Festival, but now, Townend has had the reins turned over to him.

Townend may have had a successful week in the saddle at the Cheltenham Festival but he had to endure quite a bit of stick from others before the end of the four-day event. Walsh was critical of Townend’s riding during the early races at the festival along with plenty of onlooker constantly comparing the two jockeys.

Walsh criticised Townend for his riding on day one of the race when Rachel Blackmore overtook him at the rail. But Townend accomplished something that Walsh never did at Prestbury Park. He won a second consecutive Gold Cup which Walsh, despite his illustrious career, was unable to do. Interestingly, Townend didn’t win his first of the five races at the Cheltenham until the 14th race of the festival meeting.

The jockey’s success at Cheltenham came in stark contrast to what he experienced just days later. Townend had been cheered home by over 60,000 race fans at Prestbury Park and over the weekend, rode to victory in front of an empty house at Navan Racecourse. Townend rode at Navan in the County Meath in Ireland just hours after winning the Gold Cup and was in the saddle to lead Francin to victory. Due to Ireland’s coronavirus ban on large crowds of over 500 people, no fans were on hand to see Townend race to the win. Mullins trained Francin and his No. 1 jockey was in the saddle to win once more.

Mullins has already stated Al Boum Photo will be ready to race at next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. The horse will be accompanied by Townend as the jockey attempts to make it three straight Gold Cup wins in a row.

The legendary trainer heaped praise on Townend after his success at the Cheltenham Festival. Despite the criticism from Walsh, the former jockey also praised Townend following his five wins. Walsh holds his former understudy in high regard and it showed during the celebrations. Now, Townend will have a chance to make Mullins and Walsh even prouder in next season’s Cheltenham Festival races.