Paul Townend is raring to go for the Dublin Racing Festival

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We have a busy and exciting weekend ahead. There are some strong entries over the two days of the Dublin Racing Festival and I am really looking forward to it.

I have three rides on Saturday, starting with Come To Me (12.50) in the novice hurdle. He was hugely disappointing in Naas the last day.

I have given him the benefit of the doubt because it was so under par that I have drawn a line through it. It’s not an easy race on Saturday either.

I was lucky enough to ride Dunvegan in a maiden hurdle and I was very taken by him. I think he is a horse with a huge future in front of him. Willie Mullins is well represented with five runners as well.

But I really liked Come To Me when he won at Cork and I am hoping he can put his Naas run behind him and show his true running on Saturday.

Gordon Elliott’s horse Commander Of Fleet will be suited by the step up in trip and ran in the Grade 1 at Fairyhouse early in the season.

We haven’t see a lot of Sayar (2.00). We liked him as a novice hurdler. He won his maiden well and went on and won a graded race at Tipperary.

We thought he had a big future then. He’s obviously had his issues. He ran okay a few times on the Flat but this will be a big ask for a horse that is relatively inexperienced over hurdles in such a competitive handicap.

Charles Byrnes appears to hold nearly all the aces with Wonder Laish and Off You Go.

J P McManus is well represented as well and they look to have the standout horses in the race. We will be hoping for a nice run and that will give us something to build on.

Voix Du Reve (3.45) has taken really well to fences but being realistic he has a lot to find with Le Richebourg and I am not sure where we are going to find that improvement.

Take Le Richebourg out of it and I am sure he can be competitive against the rest of them. He finished upsides Joseph O’Brien’s other horse Us And Them at Christmas.

He will run his race and will be thereabouts but I am not sure we can beat Le Richebourg.

Sunday

I have six rides to look forward to on Sunday. Sapphire Lady (12.40) had a great run at Fairyhouse over two miles. Stepping up to two and a quarter miles will help her.

There isn’t much between the two Mullins horses here. My horse disappointed in Limerick one day but put that run behind her in Wexford and ran a cracking race at Fairyhouse when she finished upsides Willie’s other one Cut The Mustard.

It’s a competitive handicap but there is nothing between our two and we will see if they’re good enough.

Lamarckise (1.15) makes a debut for us. She had one run in Auteuil so this is a bit of an unknown. Sir Erec and Tiger Tap Tap look a cut above the rest.

Chief Justice is running off level terms after giving weight on his last two runs. He will run his normal consistent race.

Aramon (1.50) is a good ride. He was so impressive winning the novice hurdle at Christmas. He is a horse on the improve.

I think this will be a stiffer test than the race he won the last day but you could not but be taken by the way he quickened from the back of the last to the line. We don’t know where that improvement will end.

The maiden I won on Klassical Dream at Christmas is working out very well. That ties in with Vision d’Honneur and Entoucas. They are true Grade 1 horses. We have the experience over them in racing at that level but I think it will be a tougher task than Christmas.

If I were to pick a positive about Calie Du Mesnil (2.25) it would be she has a nice racing weight. She probably does have to up her game a bit.

Her form ties in with Sapphire Lady going back. Being realistic she is going to have to put her best foot forward but the step up to three miles won’t inconvenience her.

I ride Al Boum Photo (3.35) in the Irish Gold Cup which looks a class renewal. He has done nothing wrong and his form ties in with Monalee who he met on a good few occasions.

On ratings he only needs to improve a couple of pounds. It’s hard stepping up into the elite level out of novice company.

Bellshill will improve a lot for his run at Christmas when he was a bit disappointing. He is a very good horse in his own right.

But the horse to take out of the Savills Chase was Road To Riches who looked very unfortunate to slip a couple of times on his way round. He sets the standard.

Al Boum Photo has to improve to get into the elite chasers’ group but I am delighted to be riding him and hopefully he can make that transition.

Cadmium (4.10) will be having his first run in a handicap. I suppose he has a lot of weight. He is a novice that is probably open to a little bit of improvement.

His form with Ornua looks very good. He is no back number but it will be hard to carry all that weight in this handicap debut. Although he does have a lot of experience over fences the weight is the worry.

I would be hoping Aramon or Al Boum Photo can put on a good show. They represent my best chances.
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.