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'Genuine mistake': Jockey explains what went wrong in chaotic conclusion to Punchestown race

Paul Townend and Robbie Power have both released statements this morning.

PAUL TOWNEND HAS apologised for taking the wrong course aboard Al Boum Photo in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown yesterday, an extraordinary mistake which leaves the jockey facing into a 21-day ban for dangerous riding.

Punchestown Festival 2018 - Day One - Punchestown Racecourse Robbie Power (left) looks on as Paul Townend aboard Al Boum Photo collides with the fencing. Source: Niall Carson

There was a chaotic conclusion to the opening day of the 2018 Festival as Townend dramatically steered the race leader right of the final hurdle, having apparently heard a shout instructing him to bypass the obstacle.

Replays show Townend stand up, look over his right shoulder and steer the Willie Mullins-trained horse right, colliding with Finian’s Oscar and then crashing into the white fence.

Punchestown stewards handed Townend a 21-day ban for dangerous riding and the Cork-born jockey has this morning issued a statement to apologise to the connections of Al Boum Photo and punters at the Naas course.

“I thought I heard a shout and that the last fence was being bypassed,” he said in a statement via Racing Post.

“It was a split-second reaction. I wish to apologise to connections and to punters. I’d like to leave this behind me and move on with today’s rides.”

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has also released details of its steward’s enquiry into the incident.

“Further to the enquiry into an incident approaching the last fence involving Al Boum Photo (FR), ridden by Paul Townend and Finian’s Oscar, ridden by R.M. Power, the following is a summary of the evidence given by both riders. The summary will be appended to the enquiry report.

“In his evidence, R.M. Power outlined what occurred. He said that he was coming to win his race before the last and was carried out. He described the incident as unfortunate and said he had no idea why it happened. He said he was not aware of any reason which would indicate that the fence was being bypassed.

“In his evidence, Paul Townend said that he was riding with his head down between the last two fences and heard roaring on his left which caught his attention. He thought he had to bypass the fence but didn’t know which side to bypass on. He panicked and commenced his move to bypass the fence on the right side but then realised there was nothing on the fence to indicate a bypass was needed and tried to correct his actions but it was too late. He accepted in hindsight that there were no bypass procedures in place. He said he made a genuine mistake and apologised for what occurred.”

Power took to Twitter to defend Townend after his ‘human error’ during the final race of Tuesday’s card.

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“It’s taken me a few hours to calm down from that very unfortunate incident yesterday with Paul Townend,” he said.

“Nobody feels worse than him, just human error.”

As his ban doesn’t come into effect for another two weeks, Townend is scheduled to ride again today, with his first race coming on board Pravalaguna at 4.20pm.

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