Paul Townend horse racing
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Paul Townend previews his Cheltenham Festival day four rides including Al Boum Photo

| 18.03.2021

This is the big day when Al Boum Photo bids to win a third Cheltenham Gold Cup.

But before that we have the Triumph Hurdle in which I ride Haut En Couleurs (13:20). He is a horse we like a lot but being realistic this is a huge ask to pop up first run out of France in the Triumph.

He shows us a lot at home and it’s going to be hard with Zanahiyr and Quilixios in here. He is being thrown in the deep end but we like him a lot and whatever he does he is going to be a horse for the future.

I ride Ganapathi (13:55) in the County Hurdle. For a race like the County I hope he is tough and experienced enough, but he strikes me as a horse that will be.

He is unexposed which you might need in a race like this. In saying that I have won it twice on a top weight or close to it. We are trying something different this time but he could be on a nice mark and open to a bit of improvement.

Stattler (14:30) ran an okay race in Leopardstown. It was a bit disappointing he didn’t hang on for second that day but he had made his own running.

Again I think he is a horse for the future but I am not ruling him out of this. I think he has a brilliant chance. He’ll stay every yard and he jumps great.

Fakiera was one place behind him in Leopardstown and is a big danger so another couple of furlongs will also suit him and Torygraph is another improving the whole time.

What is there more to say about Al Boum Photo (15:05). I will be keeping everything crossed. Champ’s preparations have not been ideal and A Plus Tard was very good at Christmas. They are going to be good opposition to us.

I think it will be a bit more like the 2019 running and I couldn’t be happier with Al Boum Photo. I can’t see why any of the horses that were there last year can turn the form around with him. I think Al Boum Photo is the most solid horse in the race and hopefully things will go right on the day.

I ride Billaway (15:40) in the Hunters. He has been a model of consistency in these sorts of races. He was a good second here last year to It Came To Pass. It Came To Pass isn’t going into the race with an ideal prep but he had similar form last year and I think Eugene [O’Sullivan] will have him spot on on the day.

Bob And Co for Paul Nicholls is another obvious danger but I think my lad is very consistent and he’ll put up a good show and hopefully go one better than last year.

The Mares’ Novices Chase is really interesting and has been well supported. Magic Of Light probably wants a bit further and Elimay looks the obvious pick.

I ride Colreevy (16:15) who lacks a bit of experience but she hasn’t put a foot wrong yet at home. She is a Grade 1 winner who is still improving.

It’s going to be a really good race with Shattered Love in here as well, Salsaretta has been trained for this race but has to put a disappointing run the last day behind her and Cabaret Queen is very consistent too.




Paul Townend

Paul is an Irish jockey who competes in National Hunt racing and is an integral part of the famous and vastly successful Willie Mullins team. Paul was Irish jump racing Champion Jockey for the 2010-11 season and will be discussing his rides in a weekly blog with Ladbrokes News throughout the jumps season.