statement for the defence
Townend served one of the longest apprenticeships in history before finally
becoming Number One jockey to Willie Mullins. It would be more difficult to
find a more successful one either, given that his spell as understudy to Ruby
Walsh yielded 47 Grade 1 victories, 10 Cheltenham Festival successes and two
champion jockey titles.
Walsh riding off into the sunset, Townend quickly brought his tally to 50 Grade
1s, thanks to Un De Sceaux and Benie Des Dieux at Punchestown, and the latter
once more in the Grande Course de Haies at Auteuil 13 days ago.
with the commencement of a new season domestically, he has been banging in
winners at terrific rate, 15 from 28 an obviously unsustainable run of 54 per
cent in the long term.
Russell, who added the Grande Steeple-Chase de Paris to his CV with Carriacou
in France, 24 hours after Townend and Benie Des Dieux were triumphant, has
himself had a very strong start to the new term and would not be unhappy with
nine winners at a 25 per cent strike rate at the end of May. Yet he is already
playing catch-up as Townend puts the boot down early in his bid to defend his
Russell, the champ has always been very busy and it is notable that of his
eight declared rides from this evening to Sunday, seven different trainers are
deploying his services. No sign of resting on his laurels there.
conditional champion, Donie McInerney will not be eligible for honours this
time around and it is interesting how there are already eight multiple winners
among the claiming professionals in the embryonic stages of the National Hunt
have been two Kerry champions this decade, Bryan Cooper taking the spoils in
2011 and Jack Kennedy doing so five years later.
is very early days yet but Listowel man Kevin Brouder is leading the charge at
this juncture, with five winners. Cathal Landers is on four, Adam Short on
three and Liam Quinlan, Danny O’Keeffe, Katie O’Farrell and Shane Mulcahy have
Brouder – whose brothers Gearóid and Gavin are also jockeys – will be employed
on the treble across the water in Worcester tomorrow for shrewd trainer Charles
Byrnes, which is a good indicator of how highly he is rated. He will be optimistic
about registering his first cross-channel success.
five-pound claimer’s sole opportunity to add to his domestic tally over the
weekend comes in the Mid Summer Monday 17th June Race Evening
Beginners Steeplechase (4.20) at Kilbeggan on Sunday. Barry Connell’s
Wonderoftheworld is making his first public racecourse visit since finishing
third in a novice chase at Brouder’s home track last September and in the
circumstances, faces a tough task against a field that includes the
Mullins/Townend axis, who will be represented by Grade 3-winning hurdler, Robin
hungry for more
Ger Lyons success story is a stunning one, since the former journeyman jump
jockey turned his hand to training. Gradually, the Meath man has built a
phenomenal operation at Glenburnie Stables in Kiltale.
become a regular at the top end in terms of numbers, and famously buttressed
Colin Keane’s championship-winning campaign in 2017, Lyons has increasingly
managed to increase the quality of his string as well despite always operating
on the soundest business principals, buying at a budget and maximising
attracts owners however, and an increasing number of Khalid Abdullah charges
have thrived under Lyons. The very exciting Siskin and Viadera both prevailed
at the Curragh last Friday, the former in the Listed Marble Stakes, to leave
Lyons dreaming of adding to his tally of 20 group winners.
would have derived almost as much satisfaction from the victory of stable favourite,
Tony The Gent at Gowran Park and with My Mystique completing a double, is now
on 21 winners and more than €500,000 in prizemoney. Only Dermot Weld and Aidan
O’Brien are above him in the trainers’ table.
has seven runners between now and Sunday. As usual, Keane is on board, except
when there are multiple runners. That applies in the Lengthen The Odds with
BetVictor Handicap (2.55) at Listowel on Sunday, when Keane plumps for Heavenly
Rainbow but Gary Carroll will not be without a chance on Wartime Hero, who is
rated just two pounds inferior to his stablemate.