Dream week continues for Mullins-Townend axis as Robbie Power announces retirement
Paul Townend is not only on his way to being crowned champion jockey in Ireland once again but he is doing so at an incredible 36 per cent strike rate which was helped today by the victory of Klassical Dream in the Ladbrokes Stayers Hurdle.
Another memorable week for Willie Mullins continued as Klassical Dream cruised through the field to take up the running in the first Grade 1 race on Day 3 of the Punchestown Festival and had to dig deep to fend off the bold effort of Ashdale Bob.
Klassical Dream’s second victory in the race was making it a clean sweep of championship races for the Mullins-Townend axis this week and the horse was becoming the first back-to-back winner of this race since Quevega, the dam of Wednesday’s Grade 1 winner Facile Vega.
“He got out of bed the right side this morning I think” joked Townend about his often idiosyncratic mount. “Everything went right for him, he behaved himself beautifully throughout the race and in the prelims. Here plays to all his strengths.”
“You make Plan A, B, C and D with this horse because he probably tells you what you’re doing with him as we’ve seen at Leopardstown.
“I could hear (Ashdale Bob) coming. I didn’t dare have a look see who it was but I’d a fair idea Puppy (Robbie Power) was going to be stalking me all the way around the way we lined up. I thought I was doing enough the whole way to the line. I don’t know if he was going to get by me at any stage.”
Willie Mullins was full of praise for his stable jockey. The trainer said: “He loves it at Punchestown. I thought Paul gave him a lovely, tidy ride. Settled him. Brought him late down to the start, got him away nice and relaxed and had him put to sleep for most of the race, so he was really good.
“It’s always better to hold onto him. He gets upset. I think he’s better held on to but he’s done it the opposite way, he’s jumped out and gone and made the running but it’s probably the best way.”
Robbie Power produced Ashdale Bob for a career best run but had to settle for minor honours on the day that the jockey announced would be his second last in the saddle.
The 40-year-old won the Pigsback.com Handicap Chase on Magic Daze for Henry de Bromhead and afterwards told Katie Walsh live on RTÉ that he would be retiring following the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown on Friday.
A winner of the Aintree, Irish and American Grand Nationals, Power rode 31 Grade 1 winners, many of them coming here at Punchestown and he completed the historic triple Gold Cup with Sizing John, which he regarded as one of the highlights of his career.
“It’s hard to pick one out but that day here on Sizing John when he won his third Gold Cup,” Power said reflecting on his illustrious career. "Djakadam and Coneygree (were in it). It was as good a race as I ever rode in and I got a huge buzz from that. I’ve had so many highs. I’ve had a wonderful career and hopefully the next two days go well.”
Speaking about his decision to call time on his career, he added: “It’s been torture the last couple of months with the hip pain. Without Enda King in Santry (Sports Clinic), Niamh Doyle, my physio at home, and Jennifer Pugh (IHRB senior medical officer), Maria Kealy (personal trainer), John Butler (Racecourse physio), there’s been so many people helped me along the way to get me through it and (my wife) Hannah has been very understanding because I’ve been fairly grumpy at times!”