I’ve never like the phrase, but Paul Townend showed brilliant bouncebackability at Cheltenham. It’s something all top sportspeople have to have. They have to be able to get over a mistake and keep moving forward.
He showed that in spades. I was delighted for him. By the end of the week I thought he had taken himself to another level.
I got a little emotional on the TV. I’ve known Paul since he came into Willie’s yard. He’s a very hard-working guy. Very unassuming and very dedicated. He’s been through a lot in life and when the pressure was on he rose to the top.
I was delighted for him, and I think by Friday evening he had cemented himself as one of the best riders around.
I thought Paul gave Al Boum Photo a very good ride. The race had been run very steadily for a Gold Cup, and then at the sixth, fifth and fourth-last he got him in a very good position. He got control of the race going into the third-last and got the job done.
I thought leaving there last year Al Boum Photo had been so impressive he could go and win a second Gold Cup.
Am I as convinced he’ll come back for the hat-trick next year? Probably not.
But that doesn’t take away from Paul and his ability to dig in, turn things around and put it right after he couldn’t get Benie Des Dieux home earlier in the week.
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