Townend lands double on return
Paul Townend made the perfect return to the saddle with an armchair ride on Rattan for Willie Mullins in the opening maiden hurdle at Ballinrobe last night.
Champion-elect over jumps in Ireland for the first time, Townend had been out since fracturing his collarbone at Navan on March 26 but still started the night with a four-winner lead over Davy Russell.
Sent off at 8/15, Rattan took command on the entrance to the home straight and pinged the last to score from Glenstar.
Russell later moved back to within four winners of Townend when steering Face Facts to victory for Wicklow trainer Prunella Dobbs, before Townend again extended his lead to five when successful on Killultagh Queen for Mullins in the beginners chase.
Reigning champion Ruby Walsh was on the mark in the Treacy's Pharmacy Hurdle, producing the Michael Hourigan-trained False Economy to lead before the final flight to eventually score a two-lengths win over Final Victory.
Oliver McKiernan's Any Bets gave Tim Doyle his 27th winner of the season in the handicap chase.
Lorcan Donnelly's OId Theatre Royal improved a place from his narrow defeat at Cork when winning the two-mile handicap hurdle but there was an unfortunate aftermath with the gelding returning lame.