Paul Townend heads into Cheltenham as Willie Mullins’ No 1 jockey following the retirement of Ruby Walsh. Big things are expected of the Cork jockey this week but he insists he is up to the task.
“The Cheltenham Festival is here again. I am feeling good,” said Townend.
“All the work is done, the horses are in good form and we just need a bit of luck from here on.
“It doesn’t feel a whole lot different to other years, even though Ruby Walsh has now retired.
“I was going to the meeting with a good book rides in previous years as well.
“There is a little bit more pressure, a bit more focus than pressure, but that’s probably because I have better chances, so I wouldn’t swap it.
“My first ride is Asterion Forlonge, who I am really looking forward to riding.
“He impressed me a lot when he won in Naas and probably surprised me with the pace he showed to win at Leopardstown.”
Townend features in four races on the opening day of the Festival.
Paul Townend’s Cheltenham Festival rides
Tuesday, March 10
1.30pm: Asterion Forlonge – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
2.10pm: Cash Back – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
3.30pm: Cilaos Emery – Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)
4.10pm: Benie Des Dieux – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 1)