The Townends made a splash once again at the Galway Races Summer Festival as Great White Shark produced a brilliant late burst to bite his rivals in the Guinness Galway Hurdle, writes Will Jennings.
It was Paul, not Jody, on board Willie Mullins’ mount this time but the two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey won the Friday night showpiece in style, showing all his experience in the saddle to topple My Sister Sarah by a comfortable two lengths.
Mullins’ six-year-old had won last year’s Connacht Hotel Handicap with the precocious Jody on board but it was Paul who took the ride for the trainer in the €47,200 joust, as Great White Shark combated his 11st1lb handicap to breeze to victory.
And that result made it a pair of triumphs for Mullins and Townend on Friday, as they followed up their win with N’Golo - son of super sire Galileo - in the first race of the day with another crowning glory.
The field set off at a steady early gallop as Noel O’Neill’s Ministerforsport set the early pace, with Ah Littleluck and Sayo in hot pursuit on the soft Ballybrit terrain.
And the 18 runners remained closely-congested heading into the half way stage with the tantalising prize pot up for grabs.
Recent Revelations and Sky Marshal soon began to challenge with just over half a mile to go, as a thrilling finale was teed up in front of the watching thousands at home on RTE and Racing TV.
But it was Great White Shark who had the most left in the locker in the 2m7f main event, as Townend hit the throttle to secure a commanding advantage heading into the final hurdle.
And from there the Al Boum Photo hero rode home into the sunset, sealing the victory by two lengths to make it two Galway Festival wins in as many years for Mullins’ mount.
It capped a memorable couple of Galway Summer Festivals for Jody and Paul, who know how to navigate their way around the storied old course like the back of their hand on Mullins’ horse.
Great White Shark had endured a bumpy year up to that point but Townend smelt blood and wounded his rivals in style, as Ballybrit was once again a happy hunting ground for the deadly riding duo.