It’s just Willie Mullins and Paul Townend’s world, and we’re all living in it, writes Bradley West.
That grand combination were at it again in the second Grade One race of day four at the Punchestown Festival as Gaillard Du Mesnil claimed the Champion Novice Hurdle.
Like Honeysuckle before him, this was not a commanding display by any means as the five-year-old made heavy weather of the race.
It never looked like a comfortable ride for Gaillard, who had to fight off Jessica Harrington’s Ashdale Bob to secure a second Grade One victory by two and a quarter lengths.
That brought the century up for Townend this season – and moved him one clear of leading amateur Patrick Mullins in the jockeys standings for the week at Punchestown.
“This lad was keen enough throughout the race, with just the four runners it was messy enough,” Townend said.
“Thankfully he's won and it's brilliant for Mr and Mrs Donnelly [owners] as well.
“He was sloppy at the last down the back. For a four-runner race there was a lot going on. All's well that ends well.”
Of course, Gaillard’s chances here were dramatically improved when favourite Bob Olinger was withdrawn mere hours before racing began after he was fond to be coughing.
Mullins’ charge was no match for Bob Olinger at Cheltenham, and on this form would have struggled to come out on top again on the other side of the Irish Sea.
But, he never had to worry about that and gave his trainer a quite remarkable 15th winner of the week.
“That was a very good performance and I think he's going to be a nice horse next year,” Mullins said.