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    Jack Kennedy wins the first Irish jockey title
Jack Kennedy wins the first Irish jockey title
Jack Kennedy. Source: independent.ie

Jack Kennedy wins the first Irish jockey title

Jack Kennedy won his first Irish jump jockey championship despite being suspended and having to miss the last day of competition.

Despite leading the table for the previous five years, Paul Townend was trailing 123-119 on the final afternoon of the Punchestown Festival. There were still five reserved rides available to turn the score around.

His task was made even more difficult when opening mount Klarc Kent was brought up. Lossiemouth's successful finish only served to postpone the situation, and Glengouly was another Townend ride that was unable to finish the course.

Townend scored on Kargese to cut the deficit to two, but he was unlucky on his last horse, Olympic Man.

Kennedy, who has developed an excellent connection with his trainer Gordon Elliott, stated: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to have won the championship. Paul got close enough in recent weeks to give me loads of sleepless nights but I’m delighted to have hung on. I’ve had a great 12 months, leading the championship for much of the way and riding over 100 winners in a season for the first time in my career. There were loads of great days and riding Grade One winners in Ireland on such good horses as Gerri Colombe, Teahupoo, Farren Glory, Found A Fifty, Caldwell Potter and Irish Point was very special. A massive thanks to Gordon and all the owners, all the staff in Gordon’s and all the trainers that have supported me this year, my agent Kevin O’Ryan and everyone behind me. Without my family, this wouldn’t be possible.”

Elliott added: “I’m thrilled for Jack. We have been thinking about this day since he was 16! Unfortunately, he got a couple of hold-ups each year. Last year, he was clear but got hurt in Naas. We knew this year he was in good nick. He’s a lot stronger. I’m so happy. He deserves this more than anyone, with all the injuries that he’s had. He bounces back and that’s his attitude. Hopefully, we’ll get another 10 or 15 years out of him.”

In Ireland, Willie Mullins maintained his dominance in the National Hunt trainers' championship, winning for the eighteenth time and adding to his historic victory in Britain.

He said: “It’s fair to say that this has been our best season at home and abroad, and it is a credit to our hard-working and dedicated team that we are celebrating again today. The horses have been in some order from around November-time. They’ve just been so healthy and even this week, some of them have been putting in their best performances. When you have a healthy horse, they can keep on improving the whole season through.”

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