The Cheltenham Festival is a leading horse racing-based meeting in the United Kindom’s National Hunt racing calendar. The Grand National is the only horse racing event in the UK that offers more prize money than Cheltenham. This four-day festival takes place every year at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire. It typically takes place around Saint Patrick’s Day, so it is popular with Irish fans. The Cheltenham Festival features many Grade I races like the Champion Hurdle, Stayers’ Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Gold Cup. Superstar Jockey Paul Townend is one of the jockeys who many punters will back due to his great odds of winning. Here’s why he’s so popular at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Who Is Paul Townend?
Ruby Walsh is indisputably Cheltenham’s most successful jockey of all time, with 59 wins. However, another Irishman, Paul Townend, shows similar potential and catches up fast. Townend undoubtedly has a long way to go to surpass Walsh’s tally of wins, but he took great strides towards achieving this by scoring numerous festival wins last year. Therefore, it is no surprise that Paul Townend became the Mullins yard’s tip jockey after Ruby Walsh’s retirement. In 2019 Towend famously gave legendary Irish trainer Willie Mullins his first ever Cheltenham Gold Cup winner with Al Boum Photo. After his Gold Cup Triumph last year, Townend spoke with the Irish Examiner’s Daragh Ó Conchúir about the winning feeling.
He revealed that he had never felt anything like that before, and the experience elevated winning to an entirely new level. He added that rewatching his Gold Cup victory felt like watching it as a third person. He disclosed the extra pressure accompanying Ruby Walsh’s absence in this same interview. According to him, he was always in the hot seat and rode through injuries when Rudy didn’t ride that much last season. However, he added that Walsh’s didn’t ride that much in the last couple of seasons, so it wasn’t a big change.
Paul Townend was born in Midleton in south-east Corky country on September 15, 1990. He initially joined Mullin’s stable as an apprentice Flat jokey. To date, he rides mainly for Willie Mullins’ stable. This rich horse racing tradition seems to run in the Townend family, as his younger sister Jody is also an accomplished jockey. Nowadays, Paul Townend also participates in National Hunt racing and emerged Irish jump racing Champion jockey for four seasons: 2010-11, 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21. His precise net worth is unknown, but his career earnings as a jockey are around £8,500,000.
What Has Paul Townend Accomplished At Cheltenham?
Townend’s many victories at the Cheltenham Festival make him incredibly popular with ardent fans of the events. Also, this makes him a huge favourite of many punters who want to back the most likely winners. He rode his first Cheltenham Festival winner, What a Charm, at the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle in 2011. Currently, he is the winner of 15 Festival titles, which include the following:
- The Cheltenham Gold Cup (2x), riding AlBoumPhoto (2019,2020)
- Queen Mother Champion Chase (1x), riding Energumene (2022)
- Arkle Challenge Trophy – (1x), riding Duc des Genievres (2019)
- David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle – (1x), riding Glens Melody (2015)
- Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle – (2x), riding Penhill (2017) and Monkfish (2020)
- Stayers’ Hurdle – (1x), riding Penhill (2018)
- Triumph Hurdle – (2x), riding Burning Victory (2020) and Vauban (2022)
- Broadway Novices’ Chase – (1x), ridingMonkfish (2021)
- Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – (1x), riding Appreciate It (2021)
- Ballymore Novices Hurdle – (1x), riding Sir Gerhard (2022)
- Champion Bumper- (1x), riding Ferny Hollow (2020)
- Liberthine Mares’ Chase – (1x), riding Colreevy (2021)
- Ryanair Chase – (2x), riding Min (2020) and Allaho (2022)
- Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase – (1x), riding Irish Cavalier (2015)
- Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle – (1x), riding What A Charm (2011)
- County Handicap Hurdle – (3x), riding Wicklow Brave (2015), Arctic Fire (2017), and State Man (2022).
Paul Townend- A Cheltenham Favorite
As mentioned above, many punters turn to Paul Townend during Cheltenham to improve their odds of winning. On March 17, ahead of the event’s third day, the story was no different. According to the bookmakers, all of Townend’s mounts in Thursday’s Grade 1s were popular in numerous bets, so the Paul Townend factor is a thing.
He enjoyed a great Wednesday, scoring his first wins of the meeting, riding Energumene in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Sir Gerhard in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Therefore, it is no surprise that the highly esteemed jockey’s top-notch book of Thursday rides attracted a lot of backing from punters. He kicked off the day riding Galopin Des Champs in the Turners’ Novice Chase. Then, he rode Winter Fog in the Pertemps Final, Allaho in the Ryanair Chase, and Klassical Dream in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Ladbrokes reported that numerous bets on Townend were popular throughout the morning. According to a Ladbrokes spokesperson, punters backed Galopin Des Champ, Allaho, Klassical Dream, and Winter Fog immensely. This is because everyone wanted Townend to be in their multi bets after his successful previous day. Also, given that it was St.Patrick’s Day, it was nice to see the Irish back one of their own for the win. However, Wednesday’s heavy rain and unspecified ground conditions resulted in uncertainty, with many firms reporting no huge bets. However, Star Sports reported taking a £40,000 wager and two £10,000 bets on Galopin Des Champs in the Turners Novices’ Chase.