Paul Townend on the Champion Hurdle, Gowran Park & Navan

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I have five rides this weekend starting with Cilaos Emery in the Red Mills Hurdle (1.44) at Gowran Park.

He is coming here off the back of a fall over fences at the Dublin Racing Festival. He was a high-class hurdler, and this looks a nice opportunity for him.

Darasso, the winner of the race last year, is the one to beat. Although, he got beaten at Haydock by Ballyandy the last day. I will obviously be hoping Cilaos Emery can win and it will open up a few more options for him for the rest of the season.

The way the Champion Hurdle is cutting up, that might even be an option. However, he will have to go and win on Saturday first.

I ride Real Steel in the Red Mills Chase (2.54). He’s had a good season; he is an improving chaser and he is the highest-rated horse in the race.

The main opposition comes from Chris’s Dream. I thought he was very impressive winning the Troytown at Navan.

He got 14lbs for that. The trip and ground will suit him, as well as ourselves. I think my horse looks well treated and we are hoping he can add another win to his name.

My final ride at Gowran is Voix Des Tiep in the Beginners Chase (3.29).

He was second to his stablemate Annamix at Fairyhouse the last day. He should handle this heavy ground and he has had a couple of nice runs over fences. Spyglass Hill fell the last day after being second to Bapaume at Naas and he will give us the most to do.

Off You Go is a high-class hurdler and Milan Native has a nice rating over fences. We are hopeful rather than confident with our horse.

Onto Sunday at Navan, I ride my old favourite Penhill in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle (1.50). He’s had a couple of okay runs this season but doesn’t seem to be back to himself yet.

This is a stiff test for him, but he will handle the ground. Magical Light and Tiger Roll are the two stand outs with a view to the future. Kilfenora will be hard beat here as well.

Francin’s (2.20) maiden hurdle form in Leopardstown is working out very well. The drop back in trip shouldn’t be an issue on heavy ground. If he can back up the Leopardstown form, he will be hard beat.

It’s not a busy weekend but I have a couple of good rides and hope to bag a couple of nice winners.

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.