"He rode him like a machine rather than a racehorse" - Mullins doesn't spare Townend as second string come good
Willie Mullins had three odds-on favourite beaten at the Dublin Racing Festival at the weekend yet, if there's anything sums up his dominance of the Irish National Hunt scene, it's the fact that he still won all of those races.
Hotshots Lossiemouth, Blue Lord and Facile Vega were all turned over under Paul Townend in Leopardstown but it was the Closutton maestro's second and third string that beat them.
The highly rated Facile Vega was arguably the disappointment of the weekend, having trailed home in fifth place in the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle on Sunday, and speaking to Racing TV in the aftermath of the race, Willie Mullins said that Townend rode the horse like a machine rather than a racehorse.
The pace very quick in that race and Mullins felt that as soon as Joseph O'Brien's second favourite High Definition fell, that Townend should have given his horse a breather.
"They went a mad pace in front, and it cost the favourite I think.
"Joseph's horse wasn't able to jump at that pace so he paid the penalty.
🗣️ "We'll have to ride him like a racehorse than a machine."@WillieMullinsNH still wants to run Facile Vega in the Supreme @CheltenhamRaces - despite his no-show @LeopardstownRC
Il Etait Temps could join him but also has the Ballymore as an option#DublinRacingFestival pic.twitter.com/N1rydJgBfU
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 5, 2023
"I was worried when I saw the pace going past the winning post first time out I said they can't keep this up. Then they jumped the two hurdles down by the side up by the reservoir, I turned to David Casey in the stand and I said these two are going to break each other's hearts."
"And then High Definition lost his rider and I said, 'if Paul can get a good breather into our fella...but he didn't get a breather and that's what I was worried about here the last day, that he took off going to that hurdle and used himself up.
"So I think we're just going to have to ride him like a racehorse, rather than a machine the next time because that's what Paul did today.
He rode him like a machine rather than a racehorse and he'll change tactics on him the next day and hopefully he'll be back to what he is," added Mullins, in a Racing TV interview that you can watch above.
Racing TV's Nick Luck asked Townend about Mullins comments after the race, and the Cork jockey said the fast-pace 'definitely' contributed to his horse's defeat.
"But does it evaluate to getting beat that far, I don't know," he said.
🗣️ "It was too bad to be true."
Fascinating stuff from @PTownend, who evaluates the short-priced defeats of Facile Vega and Blue Lord @LeopardstownRC #DublinRacingFestival | @nickluck pic.twitter.com/oKP2e35f8u
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 5, 2023
Townend did end the week having rode three winners, including the two big ones on Galopin Des Champs and State man but 'super-sub' Danny Mullins had just as many. Mullins, a son of Tony and nephew of Willie's, is Townend's deputy and he had a great weekend, winning grade ones on Gala Marceau, Gentleman de Mee and Il Etait Temps.
The first of those, Gala Marceau, defeated the prodigious Lossiemouth on Saturday and trainer Mullins wondered afterwards if the race might take too much out of the horse.
"Paul got into a lot of trouble...Paul said to me he got done three times, but anyhow, I just hope it doesn't leave its mark that she had such a hard run from the third last home.
"She put in such a huge effort for a four-year-old filly for a juvenile. That just might leave a mark. That's what I'm really worried about. I'd be happier if Paul just hand-on-heels. The writing was on the wall so what was the point in hitting her?"
🗣 "Paul got into a trouble & thinks he was a little unlucky."
A @WillieMullinsNH 1-2-3 in the G1 Donohue Marquees Spring Juvenile Hurdle @LeopardstownRC with Gala Marceau coming home in front
Interesting insight from Willie who is worried about the race leaving a mark on her pic.twitter.com/7RIsHkVFPa
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 4, 2023