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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Robert Hynes

Paul Townend aiming for Grade 1 treble on opening day of Punchestown Festival

Paul Townend will be aiming to land a Grade 1 treble on the opening day of the 2023 Punchestown Festival.

The champion jockey has a great book of rides at the Co Kildare venue on Tuesday, with his boss Willie Mullins incredibly responsible for 11 of the 17 runners across the three Grade 1s.

Among Townend's rides are Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up Facile Vega and dual Champion Chase winner Energumene, while he has opted to partner Appreciate It in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase.

Here's what the champion jockey exclusively told Ladbrokes about each of his rides at Punchestown on Tuesday:

Night And Day – 3.40 Punchestown

When Willie Mullins goes to Punchestown everything has a chance. I start the festival by riding Night And Day. She missed Cheltenham and then ran too free at Fairyhouse with Daryl Jacob but she gained more jumping experience and I think the drop back in trip will suit her here. We will probably ride her a little bit differently. I am hoping and expecting a better run on Tuesday and if she can do what she shows us at home she will put up a nice performance. Patrick [Mullins] rides Nikini and Willie also has Saylavee running but both were disappointing on their last runs so I have gone with Night and Day.

Facile Vega – 4.15 Punchestown

We were disappointed he got beat at Cheltenham, but Marine Nationale was very good on the day. Hopefully this is a nice opportunity for him to get back to winning ways. He beat a few of these at Cheltenham and all is going positive at home.

Gordon Elliott’s horse, Found A Fifty, was disappointing at Aintree as was Oliver McKiernan’s No Looking Back. This comes very soon after and they have to leave disappointing runs behind them.

Energumene – 5.25 Punchestown

Energumene put his Clarence House run behind him at Cheltenham and was so impressive. Like last year, he is bidding to following up that win with another one here. I can’t wait to get back on him and hopefully he is going there in as good as form as he went to Cheltenham.

Gentlemen De Mee comes here as a fresh horse and was so good at the Dublin Racing Festival. He comes off the back of a little setback that ruled him out of Cheltenham and he should inject a bit of pace in the race.

Blue Lord has been very disappointing since winning at Christmas.

Appreciate It – 6.35 Punchestown

Appreciate It takes on Sir Gerhard again like he did at Fairyhouse. It will be interesting to see if Fairyhouse has left a mark on them. Sir Gerhard beat Appreciate It that day but I think there is very little between them. Sir Gerhard disappointed at Punchestown the last couple of years. Appreciate It wears a tongue tie and I think it will be a help. It was very hard to choose between them and I just hope I have gone with the right one.


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