It’s the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure –
just ask Paul Townend, writes Bradley West.
The three-time Champion Jockey moved a step closer to a fourth title with victory on the ever-impressive unbeaten chaser Energumene in the Ryanair Novice Chase as he notched up two winners on the day to move to 99 for the season.
Now eight clear of Rachael Blackmore, who is yet to fire this week, the trophy is all but in his hands.
This was the most comfortable of victories as the 2/5 favourite proved way too strong for his three rivals – winning by a mammoth 16 lengths to make up for missing Cheltenham last month.
And, reflecting on the win in its immediate aftermath, Townend could not stop himself from gushing over the pure thrill of being able to ride horses as good as Energumene – especially after his recent injury-enforced absence.
“Class. An absolute privilege to ride him and to get that feeling over two miles in chasers twice in one week is like Christmas coming again,” Townend said.
“Championship or not, Willie’s been very good in allowing me to be selective.
“Look at what I’ve ridden, an unbelievable class of horse. I’m very grateful to Jennifer [Pugh, Senior Medical Officer with the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB)] and my physio Paul Harrington and Anna at home for putting up with me.”
Make that eight wins, six of them in a row, for trainer Willie Mullins in the two-mile race now.
His sheer dominance over Irish racing continued on day three with five more winners – taking his tally for the week to 13.
He will perhaps not get a more convincing one, as the form which saw Energumene destroy the field in the Irish Arkle returned.
From start to finish, the seven-year-old was at the front of the field as stable companion Janidil and Henry de Bromhead’s Captain Guinness both tried and failed to keep up with him.
And it all leaves the tantalising prospect of a Queen Mother Champion Chase showdown with Shishkin next season – that really would be special.
“You would [love to see Energumene vs Shishkin next year]. He’s entitled to go and take everything on, it would be a huge race and they’re going to meet at some stage,” Townend added. “It’ll be a cracking spectacle.”