Townend evens in race for title

Niall Cronin

Just hours after being made the 6/4 favourite by Boylesports to be crowned champion jockey, Paul Townend was backed into even money despite being sidelined for four weeks.

Townend broke his collarbone in Navan on Saturday just two days after Davy Russell suffered a slight hairline fracture to his wrist which will rule him out for two weeks.

As betting opened Russell, who trails Townend by nine, was made a 7/4 chance with Paul Carberry, who is a further six adrift of Russell, 2/1 in the Boylesports market.

Now, Townend has been backed into evens, Russell and Carberry both drifted to 2/1 and 5/2 respectively.

Speaking to the Herald this morning Townend said: "I saw the specialist yesterday and I'm just on my way in for an operation now. All things being right I'll be back in three to four weeks."

Russell is aiming to be back from his setback for Grand National weekend at Aintree and that will mean he will have about four meetings to close the gap on the current leader.


Carberry has the support of Gordon Elliott and Noel Meade in his quest to regain the championship but faces an uphill task in substantially narrowing the 15-winner gap between himself and Townend.

However, Townend will miss the Grand National in which he would have been expected to ride one of the Willie Mullins runners in the race.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday regarding the National, Mullins said: "I will be working the horses this week and will decide on jockey bookings then."

Ruby Walsh has already been confirmed for Mullins' The Midnight Club who is now clear favourite for the Aintree showpiece, going clear of the Alex Ferguson partly owned What A Friend.

The Midnight Club was second in the Thyestes Chase back in January before beating stable companion and Grand National bound Arbor Supreme by a length in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.

Meanwhile, congratulations were pouring in for Robert Thornton yesterday as the jockey affectionately known as 'Choc' rode his 1,000th career winner.

Alan King's stable jockey was in action at Towcester where he steered King's odds-on shot Araldur to the landmark success.