With the start of the Punchestown Festival tomorrow, Paul Townend is back from injury and has three rides on the opening day.
Following an injury to his foot at the Fairyhouse Easter meeting, the reigning champion jockey is happy to be back, where he has a trio of Grade One mounts to look forward to on the first day of the festival.
Townend will ride Chacun Pour Soi and in the same race, he clashes with fellow Willie Mullins-trained runner Allaho, setting us up an exciting race.
Willie Mullins said: “Paul rode out yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday). It’s great to have him back.”
With a third Willie Mullins runner in the race, Cilaos Emery, they are among seven declared for the Grade One over two miles and arrive on the back of contrasting performances at Cheltenham.
Rachael Blackmore will partner Allaho, who is owned by Cheveley Park Stud, won the Ryanair Chase over an extended two and a half miles. Whereas, Chacun Pour Soi could only manage third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase when sent off the odds-on favourite.
Chacun Pour Soi, had previously won two Grade Ones at Leopardstown, will have to turn the tables on Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra, who was runner-up that day.
First Flow, trained by Kim Bailey who finished sixth, renews rivalry while Castlegrace Paddy and Daly Tiger complete the line-up.
Monkfish and Envoi Allen will go head to head for an interesting showdown in the four-runner Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase.
Townend will be aboard the Mullins-trained Monkfish, who has won all his four starts over fences. The latest win coming in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. Envoi Allen will be the main challenger, ridden by Rachel Blackmore.
Envoi Allen lost his perfect record over the bigger obstacles there when falling in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. Henry de Bromhead’s charge, wearing the Cheveley Park colours, steps up in trip to an extended three miles for the first time.
Mullins is also responsible for the two other runners in the race, Franco de Port and Colreevy, winner of the Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham.
Townend’s first ride back is set to be on Blue Lord in the other Grade One race on the card, the eComm Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle.
Mullins has a strong hand, saddling both Blue Lord and Echoes In Rain, but he does not run impressive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Appreciate It.
The seven-year-old is entered in the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles later in the week, but is not certain to take his chance there either.
Mullins said: “We’ll see. We’re going to play it by ear.”
Just five horses have been declared with Colonel Mustard, Dewcup and Uhtred completing the line-up.