Paul Townend discusses Princess Vega and a big weekend at Auteuil

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We have a big team going to Auteuil in the morning. We are sending over a bigger team than normal because we didn’t get them racing as much as we’d have liked to over here in the winter so they are still fresh.

It is a big weekend, with lots of prize money up for grabs so hopefully we can bring home some of it.

I ride Benie Des Dieux in the Grade 1 Grande Course de Hais d’Auteuil (4pm). As far as I know it is her first time taking on geldings. The ground is generally a bit slower over there; they do a good job watering it so I think that will help her.

It was probably too quick for her at Punchestown but she has come out of the race well. She jumps well, she should take to the hurdles over there and we are really looking forward to it.

I have two rides on Sunday there starting with French Maid in the four-year-old Champion Hurdle. I think on French ratings she has plenty to find with a few in there.

I’m not well up on my French form so we will have to do a bit of homework on that. I do think she will be really suited to French racing. She jumps really well and she is improving with every run.

She wasn’t beaten far at Punchestown which is probably an improvement from Fairyhouse as well. She is going there with a live chance but it’s hard to go to France and take on them horses in their own back yard.

I am on Burrows Saint in the Grand Steeple. He’s improved to no end this season. He’s been around Auteuil twice before we got him so that is a help. We are looking forward to a big run from him. He seems very well since his Irish National and will hopefully improve for it.

Rathvinden obviously runs there as well. Rachael Blackmore was going to ride him but she got inured so I’m not sure who will ride him now. He ran well in the English National.

I picked Burrows Saint because he is the younger horse and I think he is open to a bit more improvement. I hope I’m not on the wrong one.

I love racing in France. It is a different style of racing but it is pretty adaptable. It’s funny, they can go anywhere on the track. They head down the back straight and they could just take off for the outside railing. We kind of just follow them a bit.

We will walk the track and decide where we are going. We just have to adapt to it but it’s cool. The prize money is so good as well. I am surprised more Irish and English don’t go over.

The atmosphere isn’t like home. They don’t get the same crowds as us but they do support the Irish. Well I think they do, they shout stuff at us anyway which sounds supportive!

Princess Vega won on her debut and we are excited about her future. She’s not big but she has a big heart. It was her first run ever without running in a bumper or on the flat so she was just so green.

She hadn’t a clue what she was doing for the first half of the race but she fought her corner well anyway. She can only improve for it. I don’t know if she will be anything like her mother Quevega, there isn’t too many like that but it was nice to get her off to a winning start.

The syndicate that own her were all there and were so excited to be back racing.

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.