Ruby Walsh chokes back the tears after emotional triumph for Townend 3 months ago

Ruby Walsh chokes back the tears after emotional triumph for Townend

For years, Paul Townend was waiting on Ruby Walsh to make a mistake.

The mistakes never came.

It's a lonely life, being the understudy of the greatest jockey ever to sit on a horse but Paul Townend bided his time and he kept the head down.

There was no better place to be, than in Willie Mullins' Closutton yard and the Cork jockey was always going to get his chance in the driving seat.

After a legendary career, Walsh eventually moved on at 40 and that left Townend centre stage. Would he sink or would he swim?

It was never a question in Walsh's mind.

Townend's masterful skills have ensured that the Mullins yard has stayed at the very peak of the game and come March 2020, he had retained horse-racing's blue riband event, the Gold Cup, aboard Al Boum Photo.

In what was a spectacular renewal amid perfect weather conditions in Cheltenham, Townend's mount was always there or thereabouts and when a bunch of horses came with their challenge at the brow of the hill, you always felt the defending champion was the one to beat.

They challenged hard, none harder than Santini but under another masterful Townend ride, the Donnelly's horse held on to win it again at odds of 100/30.

Ruby Walsh was on ITV's coverage of the race and watching Townend and his horse make their way back to the parade ring, it all became a bit too much for Walsh, a close friend no doubt and adviser of Townend's.

Ruby struggled to get the words out as he explained that Townend had come to the Mullins yard at 15, not long after losing his mother as a 12-year-old.

"In a way my mother dying probably made me want to succeed even more, because racing was taking my mind off things," Townend had said in an interview with the Racing Post.

"I like to think I might have a little help from above,” he added.

Hear, hear.

Well done Paul, Willie and all connections. Masters of the game.