Fit-again Paul Townend and Willie Mullins on fire at Gowran

Sat 10 Mar 2018

Paul Townend enjoyed a fairytale return to action on the eve of Cheltenham with a 36-1 four-timer at Gowran - highlighted by Pairofbrowneyes in the Bookmakers Leinster National.

The former Irish champion had been sidelined since damaging an ankle in a fall from Killultagh Vic in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown but got back in the groove in some style on a quartet of winners for Willie Mullins, who finished the day with a five-timer.

Townend rode Pairofbrowneyes with renewed confidence thanks to his two earlier successes as he brought the 9-2 chance to lead at the third-last fence and bounded clear.

The nine-year-old scored by three and three-quarters of a length from Space Cadet, with Glencairn View a further three and a quarter lengths away in third.

"He did what he's bred to do and we'll look forward to all those long-distance chases with him," said Mullins.

"He's qualified now for the Aintree National and that was the prime reason for running him here.

"We'll see where we go now. He's in the Irish one, in at Aintree and we could also wait for Punchestown.

"He jumps great. He's a fine, big, strong staying chaser."

A fine day for Townend and Mullins began when Saglawy landed the odds in the Kilkenny Hunt Maiden Hurdle.

The 2-5 favourite cruised past the front-running Warnaq at the penultimate flight, and Townend could afford to take things very easily on the run-in.

Former classy Flat performer Epicuris (3-1) gave them a double when opening his account over jumps in the Best Of Luck To The Irish At Cheltenham Maiden Hurdle.

Townend said: "He has the form of a class horse but he'll have to get his act together.

"I think a bit of nicer ground will suit him."

Townend enjoyed an armchair ride on Up For Review as the 1-5 favourite strolled to victory in the Irish Machinery Auctions Beginners Chase.

"It's a nice day for Paul," said Mullins.

"We'll probably look at around that trip for him again and we might look at Fairyhouse.

"He goes through that ground but I think he'll handle better ground as well. With his style of running he'd handle better ground and probably a longer trip.

"It's nice to see the horses running like that and the two guys (Townend and Ruby Walsh) are back now full of confidence."

Derby (1-2 favourite) - ridden by the trainer's son, Patrick - made all the running for Mullins' five-timer in the concluding bumper.

"He loves testing conditions and loves jumping," said Mullins.

"We're looking forward to him going jumping in the future.

"He might just get another run in a bumper this spring and probably be put away then."

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