Monday, May 27, 2024

Paul Townend insists losing Irish title to Jack Kennedy wouldn’t ruin his season ?

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Paul Townend will be racing in Sandown today.

Jockey Paul Townend

thumbnail: Paul Townend will be racing in Sandown today.
thumbnail: Jockey Paul Townend

Paul Townend insists that relinquishing his Irish champion jumps jockey crown will not take anything away from a stellar season in the saddle, should he come out on the wrong end of a titanic battle with Jack Kennedy.

Townend has enjoyed a spectacular season with Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup success at the Cheltenham Festival – where he was crowned leading rider – followed by a first Aintree Grand National triumph earlier this month aboard I Am Maximus.

The Cork rider faces a stiff task to overturn the deficit to the front-running Kennedy, though, and he could need to hit double digits in winners at next week’s Punchestown Festival if the 33-year-old is to land a seventh title and deny Kennedy his first.

“I have a huge week ahead of me with the Punchestown Festival. The Irish Champion Jockeys’ Title is really heating up between myself and Jack Kennedy. It would be brilliant to be champion again but it’s not going to ruin my season,” Townend said in his Ladbrokes blog.

“I have a huge book of rides at Punchestown, and I will be concentrating on taking it ride by ride and winning Grade Ones. What will be will be in the championship after that.”

With a break in the Irish jumps calendar ahead of festivities at the Kildare track next week, Townend heads to Sandown today with his boss Willie Mullins almost certain to be crowned British champion jumps trainer for a first time.

On the domestic front this weekend, today’s Flat card at Navan is the only show in town with Kyprios the star attraction as Aidan O’Brien’s brilliant stayer sets off on a season revolving around the Ascot Gold Cup once again.

Winner of the 2m4f stamina test in 2022, the six-year-old suffered an early-season setback which saw him miss last year’s renewal before later finishing runner-up in both the Irish St Leger and the Long Distance Cup at Ascot.

Jockey Paul Townend

All roads lead to Ascot again via the Listed Vintage Crop Stakes (4.0) and Ryan Moore’s mount should take all the beating with conditions in his favour.

“I couldn’t be happier with him,” O’Brien said of Kyprios last month. “The plan is to go to Navan and then Leopardstown and then the Gold Cup. Nothing went right for him last year but so far everything’s been very good this year.”

In the earlier Group Three Salsabil Stakes (2.52), the Paddy Twomey-trained Purple Lily oozed class at Naas last month and may prove a cut above a decent field under Billy Lee to make it three from three en route to bigger and better things.​

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