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Townend tingling with excitement as he looks forward to Mullins' galaxy of stars

Klassical Dream: a major Champion Hurdle player according to Ruby Walsh
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Paul Townend thinks Klassical Dream could have what it takes to provide Willie Mullins with a fifth Champion Hurdle, and the Irish champion jockey has a suspicion Chacun Pour Soi is a little bit special too.

However, Willie Mullins' new number one admitted life is a little strange following the retirement of Ruby Walsh.

"Strange is probably the right word for it," said Townend when asked how life was without Walsh at Closutton. 

"If we can get a big winner early in the season it will take a bit of the pressure off. This time of the year is the most exciting as you are watching all the good horses coming back into work.

"The goals remain the same, stay safe and ride as many big winners as I can. Hopefully I can make the right decisions, but I know I will get a couple wrong along the way. It is hard at this time of year to be thinking about being champion jockey but we have got off to a good start and have plenty of winners on the board already.

"As the season goes on, you figure out whether you are in a good position to give it a good crack or not. Being champion jockey is not the be all and end all."

Klassical Dream clears the final flight on his way to winning the Champion Novice Hurdle

Talking at the Westbury Hotel in Dublin on Friday afternoon as Ladbrokes Ireland launched their sporting ambassadors for the season, the two-time champion added: "I'm looking forward to riding in the big races more often in England. Before Ruby retired I used to love it when there was a big race in England as it meant Ruby was riding there and I was going to pick up a few nice rides at home.

"Any professional sports person wants to be on the big stage and operating at the highest level so hopefully we will be able to do that this season."

Townend was not on board Klassical Dream for his explosive Supreme success at the Cheltenham Festival in March but was in the saddle for his Irish debut at Leopardstown last Christmas and liked what he felt.

"Klassical Dream is the exciting hurdler coming through and I would like to think he can step up to be a Champion Hurdle horse. I rode him when he won his maiden hurdle at Leopardstown and I loved him. He was very raw that day but I knew he was a good one," said Townend. 

Chacun Pour Soi's connections celebrate after his Grade 1 victory

Chacun Pour Soi is unbeaten in two starts for Mullins and Townend had the thrill of riding the second favourite for the Champion Chase at Naas in March.

Townend said: "He felt very good at Naas and it was only after I came back in to the weighing room I realised just how good he must have been. All the others who rode in the race were asking, 'Why the need for speed, Paul?' but sure I thought I was only going a half-speed the whole way. When he won the way he did at Punchestown then he looked like he might be a little bit special. He is very exciting."

Watch: Chacun Pour Soi make a breathtaking winning Irish debut at Naas in March under Paul Townend by a staggering 31 lengths 

Townend's finest hour as a jockey arrived in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup on Al Boum Photo and he is understandably looking forward to renewing that relationship.

"Personally, Al Boum Photo is very close to my heart and I cannot wait to get back on board. I have probably felt every emotion possible both on and off his back. Among the older horses you have Min, Un De Sceaux, Benie De Dieux, Laurina and Douvan so this is a very exciting time of the year," he added.

Al Boum Photo wins the Gold Cup under Paul Townend

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Al Boum Photo is very close to my heart and I cannot wait to get back on board him. I have probably felt every emotion possible both on him
E.W. Terms