Wednesday 19 December 2018

WATCH: Paul Townend bounces back from Punchestown embarrassment with big successes on Day 2

Paul Townend was delighted to be back in the news for the right reasons after steering Pravalaguna to success in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle at Punchestown and he backed that up by steering Next Destination to victory in the Grade One Novice hurdle.

The former Irish champion jockey endured an afternoon to forget on Tuesday when his dramatic final-fence manoeuvre aboard likely winner Al Boum Photo in the Growise Champion Chase led to him picking up a 21-day suspension for dangerous riding.

Townend, who was also ordered to forfeit his riding fee, later revealed he thought he had to bypass the obstacle and in doing so took out the Colin Tizzard-trained, Robbie Power-ridden Finian's Oscar as he steered his mount across the track.

Making his first appearance in the saddle since, Townend rode a cool race aboard the Willie Mullins-trained 11-4 chance Pravalaguna and she ultimately eased to a comfortable eight-length success over Not Many Left.

Townend said: "That takes a bit of weight off my shoulders.

"I just want to put yesterday behind me now and move forward. I have a job to do, that was the mentality I came with today.

"I have a lot of good people behind me and that means a lot in this game."

Townend's error of judgement left The Storyteller in front in the hands of Davy Russell and he would go on to lead home a one-two-three for Mullins' title rival Gordon Elliott.

Speaking after Pravalguna's success, Mullins said: "It shows you the mettle of the man as Paul was under a lot of pressure going out there and he was very cool the whole way.

"I'm delighted to see that what happened yesterday didn't shake his confidence. He's a popular guy and that showed in the reception he got here today.

"He came into the yard this morning and got slagged like every jockey would, and then as it turned out Joe Tizzard (Tizzard's son and assistant) was the first visitor we had this morning.

"The two of them met in the barn and had a chat. It was unfortunate what happened yesterday, but nobody died and nobody is injured."

Townend then produced a classy display on Next Destination to win one of the biggest races of the Punchestown meeting, as the duo backed up their status as favourites with a convincing win.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old won his first three starts over hurdles, including a Grade One success at Naas, before finishing third behind Samcro in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at last month's Cheltenham Festival.

Stepping up to three miles for the first time, he was the 5-4 favourite to rediscover the winning trail in the hands of Paul Townend and travelled strongly for much of the way.

Just when it looked as though victory was assured, Gordon Elliott's Delta Work lunged late, but Next Destination held him off by a neck.

Colin Tizzard's British challenger Kilbricken Storm, winner of the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham, was the same distance away in third.

Press Association

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