Townend strikes gold for Mullins
There's simply no stopping Cork prodigy Paul Townend's relentless march to the top of the jockeys' table on behalf of champion trainer Willie Mullins in the current campaign, and he rattled off a clinically executed treble for the flourishing Closutton stable at Naas yesterday.
Never one to do things by half, Mullins likewise extended his stranglehold on the trainers' title when helping himself to a splendid four-timer, which was completed by Samain in the bumper -- which made it a trio of scorers on the bounce, too, for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud.
A routine task for Golden Silver ahead of the planned return trip to next month's Cheltenham Festival was accomplished with the minimum of fuss by this paddypower.com Chase hotpot for a fourth Grade Two success of the season in Townend's hands.
The French-bred, which has now won a dozen races, was always going to outpace Made In Taipan once allowed to stride on after the final fence, although as yet his target in the Cotswolds has not been decided.
"We'll leave a decision between the Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase until much nearer the Festival. I was a bit concerned, as we didn't do an awful lot with him since Punchestown (when he beat Big Zeb), but he jumped a lot sweeter today," Mullins observed.
Then, in the absence of their likely favourite Day Of A Lifetime (stone bruise), the Mullins-Townend alliance still completed their hat-trick as Dare To Doubt made full use of bottom weight to lead the opposition a merry dance in the paddypower.com Novice Hurdle.
An odds-on, runaway maiden hurdle scorer at Limerick last month, Dare To Doubt, in the colours of English-based veteran Westmeath owner Jim Ennis, steadily increased the tempo in the home straight and, despite an untidy jump at the final flight, she was much too good for Prima Vista.
"This mare is improving all the time and will be staying at home. There's a nice prize she could go for back at Limerick on the Sunday before Cheltenham," remarked her in-form handler, as Townend increased his championship lead to seven (64-57) over Andrew McNamara.
The Mullins yard had started the session in a winning vein when Navan owner-breeder Eamonn Duignan saw Johnny McGeeney belatedly open his jumping account in the Dial-A-Bet Maiden Hurdle despite drifting in the betting as support materialised for Jessica Harrington's Serein.
This pair were closing in fast on the eventual runner-up Great Value from two out and, predictably, it was Townend's mount, rather than the favourite, which asserted on the run-in to give Duignan a carbon copy of Tawaagg's first-race success at Gowran Park 24 hours earlier.
Golden Silver wasn't the only horse to make it three wins on the trot during a session attended by 3,647 spectators, as fellow French import Roi Du Mee came out best after a spirited duel from two out with main market rival Ad Idem that sparked a stewards enquiry.
Davy Russell, on the Gordon Elliott-trained favourite, had steered a somewhat erratic course between the last two fences and the principals almost collided on the climb to the post despite Ad Idem losing valuable momentum with a mistake at the last.
Though it was no surprise to the majority of observers that the result remained unaltered, Russell was severely cautioned for careless riding after the second-last as Elliott indicated Roi Du Mee would have the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse as his main upcoming objective.
Rivage D'Or kept up the good work for champion owner O'Leary when foiling stablemate Raz De Maree for the Osbornes Solicitors Handicap Hurdle before German-bred Samain turned in a breathtaking display to dominate the winners' bumper.
"Samain looks better going left-handed and good ground would suit him," Mullins said.
Although the owner isn't keen on the Cheltenham bumper, Mullins commented: "I will be using my powers of persuasion on him." Both Paddy Power and Stan James slashed the Festival odds of the Black Sam Bellamy gelding to 10/1.