Wednesday 22 August 2018

Apologetic Townend 'heard a shout' before bizarre 'Photo' fail

Al Bourm Photo ridden by Jockey Paul Townend (right) collides with Finian's Oscar ridden by Jockey Robbie Power (left) during day one of the Punchestown Festival 2018 at Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare.
Al Bourm Photo ridden by Jockey Paul Townend (right) collides with Finian's Oscar ridden by Jockey Robbie Power (left) during day one of the Punchestown Festival 2018 at Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare.

Michael Verney

Paul Townend apologised for a moment of madness aboard Al Boum Photo at Punchestown on Tuesday after admitting that he "heard a shout" and thought "that the last fence was to be bypassed".

There was huge drama in the Grade One Growise Novice Chase when Townend veered dramatically right before the final fence - he subsequently received a 21-day ban for dangerous riding and forfeited his riding fee - with the race seemingly at his mercy.

In doing so, Al Boum Photo carried out Colin Tizzard's Finian's Oscar - the mount of Robbie Power - and speculation was rife as to the reasons for the bizarre events given that no parties were available for comment on Tuesday.

Social media was awash with various theories about what happened given the lack of information made available by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) and the parties involved after the stewards' enquiry was completed.

The IHRB made some attempt to correct this yesterday morning with an explanation of the bizarre incident which had dominated the talk in racing circles overnight after Gordon Elliott's The Storyteller picked up the pieces to prevail.

Roaring

The IHRB statement read: 'In his evidence, Paul Townend said that he was riding with his head down between the last two fences and heard roaring on his left which caught his attention.

"He thought he had to bypass the fence but didn't know which side to bypass on. He panicked and commenced his move to bypass the fence on the right side but then realised there was nothing on the fence to indicate a bypass was needed.

"He tried to correct his actions but it was too late. He accepted in hindsight that there were no bypass procedures in place. He said he made a genuine mistake and apologised for what occurred."

Townend also broke his silence in a statement yesterday morning which read: "I thought I heard a shout and that the last fence was being bypassed. It was a split-second reaction. I wish to apologise to connections and punters. I'd like to leave this behind me and move on with today's rides."

Power admitted initial anger following the controversial incident but took to Twitter yesterday to defend his weighing room colleague Townend.

"It's taken me a few hours to calm down from that very unfortunate incident yesterday with Paul Townend. Nobody feels worse than him, just human error #nohardfeelings #brilliantjockey," Power tweeted.

Irish Independent

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