Treatment of Paul Townend sums up one of the worst parts about horse racing 2 years ago

Treatment of Paul Townend sums up one of the worst parts about horse racing

Mistakes happen.

Horse racing comes down to split second decisions. The jockeys are the men who make these decisions.

Make the right one and they will be heralded to the heavens, make the wrong one and they will be slated. All you have to do is look at the case of the best jockey this country has ever produced, in Ruby Walsh.

The Kildare man holds the record for the most ever Cheltenham festival wins, he's come out on top in countless big races and when he does so he's hailed as the master horse man that he clearly is.

One fall or one mistake and the out of pocket punters this time around will quickly change their tune. Suddenly, Ruby didn't even want to win that race.

Paul Townend made a mistake in Punchestown on Tuesday evening. The second last flight of the Growise Champion Novice Chase saw chaos unfold in Kildare.

Pre-race favourite Monalee blundered and hit the deck and David Mullins aboard Invitation Only followed him to the turf after his mount was tripped on landing.

That left Townend and Al Boum Photo clear. Approaching the final flight, Townend peered back at the madness behind him and this saw his horse veer to the side and take Finian's Oscar out of the race.

It was an unusual, inexplicable move by the 28-year-old, who issued a statement about his mistake the following day.

“I thought I heard a shout and that the last fence was being bypassed.

“It was a split second reaction. I wish to apologise to connections and to punters. I’d like to leave this behind and move on with today’s rides.”

A sound explanation. He is human after all.

Few would begrudge him of moving on with his life and his rides, but there were still some vile, aggressive assaults on him and on his integrity doing the rounds.

The racing authorities didn't offer much protection to their man, when they just issued him with a 21 day ban without saying what it was for.

When there's money involved, when there's a €20 bet on the line, morals so often go out the window, and that's when the conspiracy theories are drawn up and the character assassinations take place.

The way the world has gone, Twitter gives these mouthpieces a platform and they can say what they will without fear of being pulled up on it.

It's quickly forgotten that the life of a jockey is such an unenviable station. These are the men who pare their bodies to the bone every single day. The men who starve and dehydrate themselves so they can make some featherweight. The men who run around GAA pitches wearing bin bags so they can sweat more, lie in hot baths for hours to shed even more.

The preparation is unforgiving but the game itself, let's not forget, is twice as bad.

Injuries are part and parcel of the job. They're an inconvenience not due to the physical pain but the mental anguish of missing out on winning rides. These jocks are some of the toughest, most mentally resilient sports people in the world.

It's the only sport where an ambulance follows the participants around.

All for the love of the game. All we've to do is sit back and enjoy it and if you're not able to do that without getting so frustrated over it, then it's you who needs to take a good, long look at yourself.

Paul Townend is a brilliant jockey. The Cork man has been Willie Mullins' number two for years now and he's always been an able deputy for Ruby Walsh. A loyal lieutenant of the Clonsutton yard, the 2010/2011 Champion jockey has enjoyed more good days in the saddle than bad.

Paul Townend received that treatment on Tuesday afternoon.


Robbie Power who's mounts chances were curtailed because of the madness, has moved on. We should all move on.