Gold Cup winner Paul Townend turns his focus to the jockeys championship

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I can’t believe I have won the Gold Cup! It means everything. The Gold Cup is the Gold Cup. To me you don’t have to say anymore about it. It is the pinnacle and I can’t believe I have won it.

Al Boum Photo got into a beautiful rhythm. Like any race around Cheltenham, when you are going well it is so simple for you. He is a real warrior and he galloped to the top of the line.

There were horses around me struggling and it was just happening for me. I knew once I kept him upright I’d have a good chance.

Coming into the race we thought staying is his forte and he really showed that. It is unreal.

I am in a privileged position to ride the horses I do and Willie Mullins has given me a brilliant chance at home this year. From the time I was an apprentice he has supported me. I am so grateful to give him his first Gold Cup.

I have to thank the owners too so much for sticking by me. I think I owed it to the horse.

It will be all eyes on the jump jockeys championship in Ireland again after Cheltenham. I got a couple of winners before the Festival to give me a bit of a lead.

But it is far from over. Rachael Blackmore has momentum to take back from riding a winner at the Festival as well so it will be hammer and tongs from here to the end of the season.

I travel up north to the Down Royal on Saturday where my first ride is Roll Again (2.30) for Willie.

He has had a couple of okay runs in bumpers. He hasn’t won one and he will have to improve a good deal to beat Noel Meade’s horse Cosmo’s Moon who ran a cracker at Thurles just before we came to Cheltenham. I hope he can run a nice race on his first run over hurdles.

Stay Humble (3.40) contest a novices handicap hurdle. He was a little disappointing the last day and he will have to build on that to get involved. He has a bit of experience now and hopefully he can run a respectable race and get in the money.

The ground probably won’t suit Great Khan (4.15) as it is soft with a bit of rain to come. He had a very good run one day in Fairyhouse but he is probably flattered a bit by that run.

He looked like he was going to run well the last day in Clonmel but he petered out a bit. He has to build on what he has done to feature.

I ride Baie Des Iles (4.50) for Ross O’Sullivan in a three mile, two chase. She has a lot to find on ratings with a couple of Gordon Elliott’s but the trip and ground will suit her.

She had a nice run at Naas behind Pravalaguna over two miles. This trip will suit her a lot better. I had a big day on her last year in France. She will run a nice race hopefully.

Sunday

I am off to Limerick where my first ride is Sapphire Lady (2.35) for Willie in a Grade 3 two miles six mares’ novice chase. She disappointed in Leopardstown where it was probably too sharp for her.

Willie has three in the race with Robin De Carlow and Ifyoucatchmenow as well. Robin De Carlow has the rating but I think my horse will handle the ground a bit better and if not win, go very close.

I am really looking forward to riding Carefully Selected (3.10). He was second in the Champion Bumper last year but missed out coming to Cheltenham this time. He is that level.

He doesn’t show a whole pile at home, he saves it for the track. He is a very good ride to have and should be hard to beat.

Redhotfillypeppers (4.15) who runs in the mares’ chase was a winner on the track over Christmas. The step up in trip won’t inconvenience her.

It’s a competitive race but she jumped very well, stays well and chasing is her game. She will have to build on what she did at Christmas but I think she can.

Paul

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Paul Townend

Paul is an Irish jockey who competes in National Hunt racing and is an integral part of the famous and vastly successful Willie Mullins team. Paul was Irish jump racing Champion Jockey for the 2010-11 season and will be discussing his rides in a weekly blog with Ladbrokes News throughout the jumps season.