Paul Townend takes fourth champion jockey title

Paul Townend has finally seen off Rachael Blackmore’s challenge to become Ireland’s champion jump jockey for a fourth time.

Townend clinched the title when Gaillard Du Mesnil, his only ride at Punchestown on Friday, gave him his 100th winner of the campaign in the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle.

He goes into the season finale with an unassailable lead of 100 victories against 92.

Townend said: “That’s brilliant and it’s lovely to get a hundred up for the third year in a row.

“That’s my fifth (winner) of the week. I can’t complain, the horses are running well and it’s brilliant for all the different owners getting their chance as well.”

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Bob Olinger, who would have been odds-on to strike for Blackmore, was a late withdrawal from the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One.

Blackmore did land the feature Paddy Power Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle, as expected, but it was not enough to take the title race into the final day. She failed to add to her tally on her four other rides.

Blackmore reflected on a brilliant season that saw her crowned leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival and win the Grand National on Minella Times for trainer Henry de Bromhead.

“We’ve had such an incredible year – Henry has, I have, being part of that team. This (Honeysuckle’s win) is just the icing on the cake for the year – it’s phenomenal. 

“At the same time it’s been a very sad year after (the death of amateur rider) Lorna Brooke. When that happens to someone in the weighing room, it’s very hard and you’d have to be thinking about those people today as well (Brooke’s family and friends). 

“I feel so lucky. It’s probably boring for people to be hearing that all again, but I am so lucky to be part of all this and getting on these horses.  

“This one in particular is just so incredibly special, and we’re all so lucky to be involved with her. 

“Every time somebody says well done to me on Aintree, I say ‘jeez, that did happen’. It still hasn’t sunk in. It was unbelievable. 

“I can’t wait for the break now though.”

Blackmore had started the week four winners adrift of Townend, but was unable to make any further inroads on the reigning champion.

Townend only returned to action at Punchestown on Tuesday following a foot injury, but he rode a winner on each of the first two days and enjoyed a double on Thursday as he reaffirmed his grip on the championship.

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