The devastating duo of Willie Mullins and Paul Townend

It wouldn’t be the Cheltenham Festival without Willie Mullins saddling a large number of winners. No matter what race it is, the Irish trainer always has a strong contender gunning for glory, and it’s no surprise therefore that he is usually the man picking up the Leading Trainer accolade at the end of the four days.

Mullins is the kind of trainer that every jockey wants to ride for, and Paul Townend is in the fortunate position of being his number one rider. As a result, the Irishman landed five winners at this year’s Festival, enough to regain his Top Jockey title having lost it last year to Rachael Blackmore.

Where once it was the famous Ruby Walsh who rode the majority of Mullins’ winners, Townend has stepped up to the plate and ensured that the trainer’s winners have not dried up since Walsh’s retirement. It’s a role that comes with a lot of pressure, but Townend seems to thrive on it, as evidenced by the pair’s success at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Let’s take a look at how the effervescent duo of Mullins and Townend recorded five wins at Cheltenham.

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Sir Gerhard

It took until the first race of day two for the Mullins-Townend combo to secure their first win of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, and it came through the dominance of pre-race favorite Sir Gerhard in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Having won the Champion Bumper last year with Rachael Blackmore, Townend duly took the reins this time around as Sir Gerhard gave another indication of his supreme talents.

Queen Mother Champion Chase – Energumene

In what was undoubtedly Mullins’ most significant winner of the week, Townend steered Energumene to victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. In a career that has seen dozens upon dozens of Cheltenham winners, it was always a strange quirk that Mullins had never landed a victory in the day-two showpiece, but now he can tick the item off his bucket list.

In many ways, the race was decided by the fact that Shishkin was pulled up after just a few fences, along with Chacun Pour Soi unseating his rider. That allowed Energumene to win by a clear margin.

Ryanair Chase – Allah

Most felt there could only be one winner of the Ryanair Chase, and Allah duly delivered his second successive victory in the race. Blackmore had been in the saddle 12 months earlier, with Townend opting to ride Min instead, but there was no denying him a shot on Allah this time, and the eight-year-old produced a fine performance.

Triumph Hurdle – Vauban

And so, we come to the fourth and final day of the Festival. Before the action got underway, Mullins had five winners to his name. By the time the meeting had come to a close, that total had been doubled, and the trainer must give credit to Townend for winning the first two races of Gold Cup Day.

The first of these came in the Triumph Hurdle on board Vauban, who held off Fil D’Or and Pied Piper to reign supreme.

County Handicap Hurdle – State Man

In the very next race, Mullins and Townend were successful once again. State Man went into the race as the 9/4 favorite in the racing betting, and the pair produced a strong display to get the win. It was close-fought, with State Man pipping First Street by just over a length.

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