Paul Townend reflects on a massive weekend at the Dublin Racing Festival and looks ahead to rides at Naas and Punchestown this weekend in his latest Ladbrokes blog.
The Dublin Racing Festival was a huge success again. The ground was a bit slower than last year which helped and it attracted a lot of the good horses.
Faugheen was brilliant. I thought it was a huge performance from him. He had to do it the hard way in the fact that I had to follow Davy Russell on Battleoverdoyen.
It was brilliant to see the crowd appreciate the performance as much as they did. At this stage of his career to put in a performance like that, I thought it was something special.
Chacun Pour Soi improved liked we thought he would from Christmas. I think he really stamped his authority on the Irish two-milers at least.
It’ll be interesting to see how Altior gets on at the weekend. Defi Du Seuil probably still sets the standard but Chacun Pour Soi isn’t far behind him. His jumping was impeccable, and I am really looking forward to riding him again.
Kemboy improved from Christmas and I think there will be more improvement to come from him. I suppose he will have to if he’s to get the better of Delta Work. It was a nice run but disappointing to get beat. It was a step in the right direction all the same.
Even though I wasn’t on Asterion Forlonge or Cash Back there was a lot of positives to take from their two runs.
I thought Cash Back jumped very well and Notebook just got the better of him. I wouldn’t be against the possibility of him turning that form around. Asterion Forlonge put in a massive performance.
We thought it would be a bit sharp for him but he got up no problem. It’ll be a nice headache to try and pick the race for him at Cheltenham. Joe Donnelly has Shishkin as well so I’d imagine he would like to split them up.
Saturday – Naas
It is a quiet enough weekend with three rides at Naas on Saturday. I start by riding Cut The Mustard (1.37).
She ran well behind Elimay in Thurles the last day. This is in open company albeit she’s a novice. She jumps well and this looks a nice opportunity for her. She only has 10’7 on her back.
I then ride Hybery (2.47) who has been very disappointing on his two runs so far. He hasn’t shown us a whole lot but should improve from his couple of runs. We will have a fair idea after this where we are going.
Aione (3.57) was very good when winning at Gowran Park and this looks a good opportunity for him.
Willie Mullins is running him quickly enough after that and it’s not something he does too often but he didn’t have a hard race that day and hopefully he can overcome that. That said, I think Emmet Mullins’ horse Millyinthemiddle is probably the one to beat.
Sunday – Punchestown
I am at Punchestown on Sunday, starting with Francin (2.45). The form of his race at Leopardstown at Christmas is really working out and hopefully this is the day he can get off the mark.
He was too keen at Navan on his first day coming off a long layoff. He improved at Christmas and I don’t think he needs to improve a whole lot more to collect here.
Pleasant Company (4.25) had a run over hurdles earlier in the season. He’s usually a horse who doesn’t come into himself until springtime. He’s top weight here so it’s a big ask for him.