Leading lady amateur jockey Jody Townend has a unique style of riding, which she claims is from her showjumping background. Champion trainer Willie Mullins feels it has helped her ride any horse he puts her on.
Ahead of the Galway Races on Monday, July 25th, John Duggan headed out to Willie Mullins' yard to talk to Townend to look back on the biggest winner of her career on Great White Shark in The Connacht Hotel Handicap at the 2019 Festival.
Speaking as part of a special Galway Races preview documentary, Townend discussed how her showjumping background prepared her for life as a jockey.
"You'd learn all the basics," Townend said. "It's very easy to hop up on a race horse, pull up your irons, and look excited. But if you can't get them balanced and get them to carry you properly, it definitely helps."
Townend rides many of legendary trainer Willie Mullins' horses. He discussed why he has given so many rides to the leading amateur.
"I love people with a good jumping background," Mullins said. "Especially showjumping, eventing or hunting. It just shows that they are very comfortable on a horse.
"That showed in Jody's make-up from the very start. You could put her on anything, it didn't seem to phase her. She had a great ability to settle horses.
"Horses that other people couldn't hold, Jody just sits up on them and becomes part of the horse."
Jody Townend has a unique riding style
Townend has a far from ordinary riding style, by her own admission. She explained what makes her so unique.
"I'd say I have my own way of riding now," Townend said. "Everyone kind of knows that. I just try and keep things simple. If you are on one of Willie's, you are on one of the best horses in the race."
Stablemate and the son of trainer Willie Mullins, Patrick Mullins explained Townend's unique style, that separates her from the pack.
"She's always riding to be running through the line," Patrick Mullins said. "She rarely hits the front too soon. She likes to get her horses settled early on.
"She likes to stay out of trouble. Some people don't like going wide, but it's something that Willie would never be afraid of."
Galway will welcome back racegoers this year
The County Galway racecourse will welcome racegoers back for the first time since 2019. In 2020, the festival took place behind closed doors and in 2021, the racecourse was allowed 1000 racegoers per day in outdoor locations only.
Established in 1869, the Galway committee have always been proactive in continuing to improve the facilities and improving the racegoer experience is paramount to maintain Galway's position as one of the highlights of the summer's sporting and social calendar.
Each Summer, the Festival puts the Galway Festival on the front pages and contributes more than €58 million to the economy of Galway City and the local region - research conducted by the Marketing Department at UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business.
Over €23 million is spent in the immediate locality on accommodation, travel, eating out, entertainment and beverages. Businesses throughout the city experience massive increase in turnover during race week, which translates into additional employment in the city, in addition to the swell of employment at the racecourse in the run up to and during the week-long Festival.
Each year Galway Racecourse hosts thirteen race meetings. The main jewel in their crown is the famous Summer Festival or ‘race week’ as it’s referred to locally.