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Townend moves six clear of Blackmore in championship race

Galopin Des Champs keeps up momentum for reigning champion.

Paul Townend on Galopin Des Champs comes home to win.
Paul Townend on Galopin Des Champs comes home to win.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Updated Apr 28th 2021, 6:47 PM

PAUL TOWNEND STRETCHED his lead to six over Rachael Blackmore in the race to be crowned Ireland’s champion National Hunt jockey with victory on Galopin Des Champs at Punchestown today.

Townend had just the two rides to Blackmore’s four, but it was enough to see the three-time champion take a step closer to retaining his title with the scores standing at 97-91

He had an armchair ride on Galopin Des Champs, who looked a class act as he powered home by 12 lengths in the Grade One Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle.

Townend had started the day five ahead of Blackmore thanks to Chacun Pour Soi’s Grade One success on Tuesday.

That was the reigning champion’s first day back having been on the sidelines since suffering a foot injury in a fall at Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival.

In his absence, Blackmore had closed the gap to four, but Townend’s determination to be fit for the final week of the season has paid off.

Another blank day for Blackmore is a blow to her hopes to become Ireland’s first female champion jockey, although she does have six rides on Thursday and Champion Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle and exciting novice Bob Olinger to look forward to among her mounts on Friday.

While Paul Nicholls landed the Gold Cup with Clan Des Obeaux, the other Grade 1 race of the day went to trainer Willie Mullins as Derek O’Connor steered Kilcruit to victory in the ITM Champion INH Flat Race.

In the process he turned the tables on Sir Gerhard, the favourite after his Cheltenham victory, and who had Patrick Mullins on board.

But Mullins did bounce back in the final race of the evening as Grangee (5-6 favourite) won his third race of the day and eighth of the meeting so far.

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Jessica Harrington had a brilliant double as well with Guiri (9-1) in the opener for Simom Torrens and Lifetime Ambition (13-2) for Robbie Power in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle.

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