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Paul Townend on Benie Des Dieux, his rides at Fairyhouse and Naas plus more

| 24.01.2020

Benie Des Dieux is an incredible mare. I have had some very good days on her at home and abroad. On Thursday, she enhanced that reputation at Gowran Park and hopefully now she goes to Cheltenham and is competitive in whatever races she goes for.

Looking at her performance yesterday, it definitely warrants contemplating a shot at the Stayers’ Hurdle. Willie Mullins won’t make up his mind until the last minute and it is hard to overlook the Mares’ Hurdle to take on Paisley Park when you have a mare like this. She is the one to beat in the race. I don’t mind where she goes once I’m on her back though.

I have a busy weekend with Fairyhouse on Saturday. I start by riding Allaho (12.25). He was beaten by another one of Willie Mullins’ on his first run at Leopardstown over Christmas.

I think there is a lot of improvement to come from him and I hope he can build on that. He is a real chasing type and he did most things right first time out. We will be hoping for a big run from him.

The next race gave me a real headache (2.10). We have three runners in the race and it is hard to split them. I ride Yukon Lil who was very impressive in her maiden hurdle at Naas.

A lot of the hurdles were out that day so she probably lacks a bit of experience but hopefully she can improve to come out top. I think this will be a real race for the future.

Jon Snow (2.45) has been a bit disappointing to be honest. We thought a lot of him at the start of the season. He has been turned over in a couple of maiden hurdles now. I hope he can win on Saturday but there are a couple of question marks over him.

On Sunday I go to Naas and I start off on Stormy Ireland (1.40) who was very impressive at Leopardstown in the Mares’ Hurdle. She’s well treated here with the conditions of the race.

The trip probably isn’t ideal but it is a race that suits her. Sutton Place is obviously a very good horse but he is coming off a long lay-off. Franco De Port won well on his first run for us but was disappointing at Limerick. If Stormy Ireland reproduces her performance from Leopardstown, it should put her bang up there. 

I was delighted with Carefully Selected (2.10) the last day at Punchestown. We learnt a lot from that. He steps up to three miles here and it looks a good opportunity for him.

Ronald Pump looks the one to beat here. He is very consistent and was a massive improver last year. I was lucky enough to win a couple of handicap hurdles on him but I am hoping Carefully Selected has a touch of class in this race.

The Big Getaway (2.40) was beaten at Leopardstown over Christmas. I thought he’d win that day so it was disappointing. It wasn’t my finest hour and hopefully I can right the wrong on Sunday. He is a horse we think an awful lot of and the step up in trip won’t be a hindrance for him.

I finish up on Stones And Roses (3.40). He pulled up in Limerick the last did which didn’t do his form any favours and there are probably a few more in the race that are open to more improvement. We will know where we are going after this race.

I am really excited about the Dublin Racing Festival. I will be trying to ride a few more winners than I did at Christmas to be honest. I think a lot of our horses who were beaten at Christmas ran very well and there is a lot of improvement to come from the likes of Chacun Pour Soi and Kemboy. They are the main two that we were disappointed got beat but I suppose there were a lot of positives too.

Next week sees two incredible days of racing and I was very happy to hear about the watering on the chase course because all the top horses will turn up if we get safe ground.




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.