Cork's Paul Townend claims first Gold Cup victory

Cork's Paul Townend claims first Gold Cup victory

He's our first victor of the week and I won't forget him.

Owner Philip Reynolds earlier refused to blame an unconventional preparation for Presenting Percy's eighth-placed finish, 33 lengths adrift of victor Al Boum Photo.

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Sixteen are due to go to post in all at 3.30 and the make-up of the race is slightly odd in that the three trainers who have dominated recent Festivals can not muster a runner at below 10-1 between them. At halfway, Mullins must have thought his luck was out again as his three other runners had all exited the race, but Al Boum Photo rose to the occasion.

"It feels great", Mullins, who had trained six runners-up in the race, told ITV Sport.

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Townend was aboard when Al Boum Photo inexplicably bypassed the final fence in a Gr1 contest at Punchestown in April previous year when holding every chance, but Mullins explained there was never any doubt of Townend not riding the horse in today's contest, with Ireland's champion Jump trainer continuing: "The morning after that Punchestown race, the owners [The Donnelly's] rang me to tell him that what happened was just a disappointing and nothing else". If it happens, it happens and, if it doesn't, I have had a fantastic time in racing and I hope to for a good few years to go.

"From an early stage, Paul had him in a rhythm jumping, with the reins relaxed and the horse doing it all". He also rode two Champion Hurdle winners - Rock On Ruby and Buveur D'Air - and won the 2017 Champion Chase on Special Tiara. Willie has guided me in the right way throughout his career. "He's a much better jumper than he showed today".

The 14 Irish-trained winners were spread across seven different trainers, and four victories and multiple placed horses was enough for Mullins to also take the leading trainer's award for the sixth time.

Presenting Percy, unsighted over fences since winning last year's RSA, is still just about favourite to follow up for mystery man Pat Kelly - even Davy Russell, Presenting Percy's jockey, doesn't know where Kelly lives and hasn't sat on the horse since he won over hurdles at Gowran Park in January.

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