Paul Townend previews the weekend action and discusses his recovery from a dislocated shoulder
Ladbrokes ambassador Paul Townend talks about his recovery from a dislocated shoulder and gives his views on the big races this weekend.
This weekend won’t be an easy watch for me. It is an important weekend of racing, with the big guns being rolled out. It is a hard one to miss but that’s the way it is. I am doing plenty of riding out and gym work to get the strength back. Every day I am a step closer to getting back so hopefully it won’t be long. I want to be 100% when I am back on the track because the horses running are just too important not to do them justice.
Chacun Pour Soi is going to have to be good in the Tingle Creek. He is away from home, travelling to the UK for his first run of the year. I was so disappointed when he was beaten at Cheltenham. I thought he was one of my bankers for the week and it was a tough pill to swallow. He then showed what he can do at Punchestown and every time I have ridden him, he has given me the wow factor.
I believe in the horse 100% and he is the best horse in the race. I suppose conditions on the day will be a little bit against him and he will need to bring his A-game. If you were to give me the leg up on any of them in the race, he is without doubt the one I would choose. He is possibly the best horse we’ve had.
At Navan, Burning Victory looks really exciting in the three-mile hurdle. I think this trip is what she is crying out for. It is going to give her so much more time to jump, comparing it to two miles around Galway in the summer time. It will be like chalk and cheese. She isn’t the most natural of jumpers but she will have so much more time here. She was only beaten by 7 or 8 lengths at Galway. Going this gallop and allowing her time to jump, you will see the engine she has. I think she is really exciting. She has a lot of weight to carry but she has the ability.
The John Durkan Memorial Chase is the big one at Punchestown on Sunday. I suppose the stand-outs are Allaho and Envoi Allen.
Asterion Forlonge was disappointing all year until he put it altogether at Punchestown. This will be a big step up for him here. Franco De Port was a Grade 1 winner but his season petered out and he suffered a bad fall at Punchestown on his last run so it’ll be a confidence issue for him, I think, although Brian Hayes schooled him this week and said he was fine. Those two are stepping out of novice company so it is going to be hard.
Kemboy is a brilliant horse in his own right. This trip is probably a little bit sharp for him but he has a good record on his first run back. Melon is the nearly horse and he will give Brian a good ride.
I think Allaho sets the standard out of ours. The trip looks ideal for him and it is hard for me to forget what he did at Cheltenham when I was watching him career away from me up the straight.
We have some Grade 2 racing at Cork as well, starting with the Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase. On hurdle ratings, Concertista is the one. She is very exciting going chasing but it is her first run over fences which isn’t going to be easy in a graded race and taking on horses with more experience.
Dolcita jumps fences really well, while Robinnia has the experience but probably has plenty to find with Concertista on form.
In the Hilly Way Chase, Energumene is the obvious one. He was flawless last year. It is a big weekend for Sean O’Keefe taking the ride on him. It was disappointing to miss the Arkle with him last year but we were fortunate enough that he came back in time for Punchestown. Of the Irish horses, he was the two mile champion and I think he can make a step up into open company and this is a really good stepping stone.
I also have to mention Ferny Hollow who runs in the Beginners Chase at Punchestown on Sunday. He is one of the most exciting novice chasers for the coming season. He is a champion bumper winner, his schooling has looked great and unfortunately I haven’t been able to school him yet. The bumper form with Appreciate It and maiden hurdle form with Bob Olinger doesn’t look too shabby!