Top Irish Jockey Paul Townend showcased his talents at Warwick’s Gentlemen’s Day on Saturday, posting a treble, including a back to back success for the classy mare Glens Melody, writes David Hucker.
It was Townend’s bad luck, however, that his feat was overshadowed by the news from Newbury that 19-times champion jockey AP McCoy is to retire at the end of the season.
Warwick has its place in McCoy’s record-breaking career, as it was here that he beat Sir Gordon Richards’ record of 269 winners in a season aboard Valfonic in 2002.
But, there is plenty more action to come before the season’s end and Willie Mullins is long odds-on to be leading trainer at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
The stable’s strength in depth was well illustrated when his two runners here both scored comfortably in the hands of Townend.
Having his first ride at the course aboard Arbre De Vie in the opening novices’ hurdle, Townend tracked leader Big Jim into the straight before sending his mount ahead at the second-last, drawing away to score by 11 lengths.
Big Jim had belied his starting price of 50-1 to run a sound race and this Towcester bumper winner is slowly coming back into form and could be one to watch in handicaps.
Glens Melody had taken last year’s OLBG.com Mares´ Hurdle (Listed Race) over two miles and five furlongs before getting to within three-quarters of a length of super mare Quevega at Cheltenham.
She went off the odds-on favourite to score a repeat win and, having taken the lead turning into the home straight, cruised home with her ears pricked to beat Emily Gray.
Townend brought up his treble aboard French import Camping Ground in the Titanbet.co.uk Handicap Chase, when the five-year-old carried top weight to victory on his first start for Dorset trainer Robert Walford.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has been in unstoppable form and, such is his lead in this season’s table, one bookmaker has already paid out on him lifting the crown again with two months to go.
Stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies was aboard his Vibrato Valtat in the day’s big race, the £40,000 Titanbet.co.uk Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, and the Nicholls bandwagon rolled on as they jumped past leader Top Gamble two fences from home and went clear for a convincing win.
This was a fifth success in the race for Nicholls and next stop for Vibrato Valtat is the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
Twiston-Davies had earlier taken the long-distance novices’ chase aboard Cogry, trained by his father Nigel.