We were treated to an absolutely stunning ride from Paul Townend on I Am Maximus to claim the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday for Willie Mullins.
The crowd at Fairyhouse couldn’t believe their eyes as 8-1 shot I Am Maximus came out of nowhere with an incredible late surge past long-time leader Defi Bleu to take the crown. It was Townend’s first ever Irish Grand National triumph and only the second for Mullins - with his first coming with Burrows Saint back in 2019.
Townend’s stock as a jockey has been on a meteoric rise in the past few years and his latest ride was unquestionably one of his best. To have won one of the biggest races in the Irish racing calendar will have given Townend a massive boost ahead of the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.
The bizarre events that led to the 1993 Grand National’s cancellation
The 32-year-old will be looking to make this week a special one as he heads to Merseyside in search of his maiden Grand National title. Townend is in great form having been named the top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival last month which included a second Gold Cup with Galopin Des Champs.
Recently purchased by JP McManus, I Am Maximus stays on best to land the €500,000 @BoyleSports Irish Grand National @Fairyhouse
It is not yet known which one of Mullins’ entries Townend will be saddled with in Saturday’s showpiece at Aintree but no matter which horse he rides, you will find it difficult to bet against him right now and punters will be keeping a close eye on who he will be declared to ride in the Grand National.
Given how poorly I Am Maximus started the Fairyhouse spectacle on Monday it is incredible that Townend was able to get him to stay in contention, let alone win. It is a testament to how good a rider Townend is and you have to say he is currently performing at the peak of his powers. During the early stages of the race, I Am Maximus looked like he wanted to be anywhere but Fairyhouse, and somehow Townend was able to find a breakthrough and suddenly the seven-year-old joined the party.
It was revealed after the race that the jockey did the exact opposite of Mullins’ pre-race instructions to spark some life into the gelding after the opening circuit, something which the trainer was thankful for. It is that expertise that Townend possesses that makes him one of the very best jockeys around and with that in mind, he is certainly going to be heavily backed at Aintree this weekend.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change