Cadmium joy has Townend beaming ahead of Pleasant Company ride
It's less than a month since Paul Townend won the Gold Cup on Al Boum Photo, but it would be no surprise if he got an even bigger buzz when Cadmium, an 8-1 shot, led from pillar to post over the National fences to win the Randox Health Topham Chase yesterday.
Size - as Tiger Roll has proved - is not as important as heart around Aintree and Cadmium is not the world's biggest, but has a fair engine and it ran with its choke full out for the entire two and three-quarter miles.
Those in behind him must have been sure he would come back to them, but he never did and galloped all the way to the line to beat the staying-on Sub Lieutenant and Rachael Blackmore by six lengths.
When one of his colleagues called to Townend "that was some gallop", the winning jockey replied that he thought he had "only been hacking".
"He enjoyed that and I enjoyed it myself," added the Corkman, who is clear in the Irish jockeys championship.
"He had the class to get the position I wanted and he winged from fence to fence and took breathers when he needed them. He was measured but attacking at the same time.
"You get a different buzz out there to any other race. It has whet my appetite for Pleasant Company in the National."
In contrast to Townend, Colin Tizzard, who runs Ultragold in the National today, had a more forgettable Cheltenham and had endured a lean March by his standards.
But his yard roared back to form when Lostintranslation, stepping up to three miles for the first time, beat Topofthegame, the RSA winner, by six lengths to win the Betway Mildmay Novice Chase.
The runner-up, which looked flat and never really travelled at any stage, rallied to pass Top Ville Ben up the run-in but Lostintranslation was racing comfortably all the way and won without jockey Robbie Power raising a sweat.
Min, at his favoured two and a half miles, put up a career-best performance to win the JLT Chase for Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and Rich Ricci.
Having sulked at Cheltenham when hold-up tactics were applied in the Champion Chase, he thoroughly enjoyed being able to dominate again here and, while Walsh hung on to Kemboy at his fences on Thursday, he was able to attack them this time as Min grew in confidence through the race.
Mullins said: "That was impressive. The change of tactics made the difference. We let him enjoy himself and Ruby said fence by fence he was enjoying it more and more.
"I think two and a half is his trip, but people are saying could he get another few furlongs, which would put him in the picture for a race like the King George."
Barry Geraghty's leg injury will have immediately started throbbing a little bit more after his intended mount Champ won the Doom Bar Sefton Hurdle over three miles.
Winning replacement Mark Walsh, owner JP McManus's No 2 jockey, was leaving for the car park when he got the call-up to replace Geraghty. (© Daily Telegraph, London)