2020 Cheltenham Festival tips – Paul Townend’s rides

Paul Townend poses with the Gold Cup trophy at Cheltenham.

We take a look through the book of Paul Townend’s rides and his best chances at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, which starts on Tuesday 10th March.


After years of trying and hitting the crossbar, Paul Townend was finally the man to deliver Willie Mullins’ the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019. Townend took the ride on supposed third-string Al Boum Photo, and gave his mount a fantastic ride, travelling smoothly throughout the race before streaking clear on the run to the line.

When Ruby Walsh retired at the end of last season, Townend replaced him as Mullins’ leading jockey. This means Paul will get the pick of the rides from the stable of Ireland’s Champion Trainer. Here’s a list of Paul Townend’s rides and top chances at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Paul Townend’s Rides at the Cheltenham Festival

BENIE DES DIEUX

Paul Townend was in the saddle during Benie Des Dieux demolition job in the Galmoy Hurdle, bolting up in impressive fashion without coming out of second gear. Benie’s only defeat in the colours of Rich Ricci came in the Mares’ Hurdle last year, when the favourite fell at the last with victory seemingly in the bag. Townend’s mount will have to contend with Honeysuckle, but the new girl on the block will have to go a long way to beat Willie Mullins’ top mare and she’s one of my top Cheltenham Festival tips in the Mares’ Hurdle.

CHACUN POUR SOI

Reminded everyone that he’s a genuine Champion Chase contender at the Dublin Racing Festival, outjumping Min to secure victory in the Dublin Chase. Cheltenham may be unknown territory for Chacun Pour Soi (3/1 Unibet), and he has capable foes in Altior and Defi Du Seuil to deal with. Yet, you get the feeling this fragile sort has plenty left to give and Townend will fancy his chances. He’ll feature amongst many people’s 2020 Cheltenham Festival tips.

FAUGHEEN

Townend has played a huge part in the story of the National Hunt season so far. At the age of 12, “the Machine” Faugheen (6/1 William Hill) has secured back-to-back Grade One victories in novice chases, winning at Limerick over Christmas and again at the Dublin Racing Festival. It’s still up in the air as to which race Faugheen will go for at Cheltenham. Some have suggested the RSA, but the Marsh Novices’ Chase looks the best bet.

ALLAHO

With Faugheen heading for the Marsh, Allaho (8/1 Ladbrokes) will likely square off against Minella Indo and Champ in the RSA Novices’ Chase. Paul Townend’s mount bounced back from defeat to Easy Game at Leopardstown with a fantastic victory at Fairyhouse, powering home from the front to beat some capable rivals by over 20-lengths. Allaho will feature in many expert’s 2020 Cheltenham Festival tips when he enters a red-hot RSA.

MIN

Another of Paul Townend’s rides is Min (9/2 Unibet), who scored in the John Durkan on his return to action this season. Willie Mullins’ charge lost nothing in defeat to Chacun Pour Soi in the Dublin Chase, and looks primed to make an impact over two-and-a-half-miles in the Ryanair. This will be the first time Townend’s mount has run at Cheltenham without having Altior in direct opposition. Min will be out to make a big impact on St Patrick’s Day.

MONKFISH

A big, raw chaser in the making, Monkfish (8/1 Ladbrokes) has put in some strong staying performances in novice hurdles this term. The Albert Bartlett has been a graveyard for fancied horses in recent seasons, and Monkfish will likely carry a single-figure price-tag into that Grade One. Yet, everything Monkfish has done so far suggests he could win the three-miler and Townend will enter the race with high hopes.

AL BOUM PHOTO

Just like last year, Al Boum Photo (9/2 William Hill) has run once prior to arriving at Cheltenham. That came at Tramore, where the Gold Cup king looked as good as ever in beating Shattered Love to a Listed prize. Paul Townend will relish the chance to return to Al Boum Photo’s saddle, as they bid to become the first horse since Best Mate to successfully defend Cheltenham’s most prestigious prize.

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