A native of County Cork, Ireland, Paul Townend has risen rapidly to the top flight of the Irish National Hunt circuit and is already a frequent visitor to the winner’s enclosure and has bags of talent and a mature attitude which belies his young years.
Immersed in horses since a young age – his father Tim trained point to pointers and in the 1970’s his uncle Bob Townend was a prominent jockey as is his cousin Davy Condon – Paul’s path into racing followed the popular route of the pony racing circuit, gaining much valuable riding experience and an abundance of winners along the way, it was almost unthinkable that he would not become a jockey.
Leaving school at 15, Paul started his career at Willie Mullins yard taking his first ride on Temlett and finishing a creditable third in a maiden at Ballinrobe in 2007.
This was quickly followed by 2 wins in June on The Chip Chopman and two more in July when he rode the favourite Emily Blake to win at the Galway Festival.
Paul’s career was off to a flying start and he finished the season with a bang when he rode a winner on the final day at Dundalk. During the 2008 season Paul had a stream of winners which brought him to the public’s attention but like many before him, struggles with his increasing weight, led to his decision to switch to National Hunt Racing.
In November, Ruby Walsh was injured in a race at Cheltenham and out of action due to a ruptured spleen, Paul was then given the majority of Mullins rides. Willie Mullins faith in Paul was not misplaced and amongst others, Grade 1 wins on Hurricane Fly, Golden Silver and Quevega soon followed.
In the 2009/10 Paul had an extremely successful season riding numerous winners, including victories in the Cork Grand National and the Grade 1 Paddy Power Dial A Bet Chase at Leopardstown.
His quiet confidence and ability to settle horses quickly has propelled his career, despite suffering a broken collar bone after his mount Indian Buck had a fatal fall in March 2011, Paul went on to claim Ireland’s National Hunt Champion Jockey title.
The 2012 Grand National was the third for Townend who had previously competed in 2009 on Irish Invader where he finished 11th and in 2010 on Arbor Supreme where he was unseated at the 15th. 2012 was a bit of an upheaval for Townend who was moved from The Midnight Club and drafted as a replacement for the freshly injured Ruby Walsh on On His Own. He didn't complete the course and fell at Fence 22 and The Midnight Club was then paired with jockey Andrew Tinker who finished in 11th place.
For the 2013 Grand National Townend was on board Quel Esprit for trainer Willie Mullins but pulled-up at Foinavon on the second circuit and due to injuries sustained by Ruby Walsh at Cheltenham, Townend will be on Prince De Beauchene for the 2014 Crabbies Grand National.
Photo Credit | Meteorshoweryn