Galopin Des Champs proves his class in the classic Gold Cup

Galopin Des Champs justified the favoritism and all the hype about winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday, with jockey Paul Townend declaring “the horse doesn’t know how good it is”.

Galopin Des Champs (7-5), coached in Ireland by Willie Mullins, his third Blue Ribbon Chase success, proved too strong for King George VI Chase winner Bravemansgame, with Conflated in third Place.

As Townend struggled in the early stages to get a clean pass to the winner, Scotland attacker Ahoy Sr. hopped forward for joy until he fell out with six games, bringing down Sounds Russian in the process.

Over the last of the 22 fences, Bravemansgame’s Galopin Des Champs had fought his way forward, with Mullins’ top-flight seven-year-old passing the famous Cheltenham goal post seven lengths to the benefit of Paul Nicholls runner with Conflated six and a half lengths down.

“He didn’t find a clean path early on but once I had a bit of space he got the rhythm back for me, he was very brave,” said Townend, who was on board Al Boum Photo, Mullins’ back-to- previous Gold Cup Hero 2019-2020.

“The start was very chaotic and we missed one of the fences coming down from the hill.

“But he was right back on the bridle, the horse doesn’t know how good he is!”

Galopin Des Champs had underscored his claim to Gold Cup glory with successes in the Irish equivalent, but his biggest claim to fame was arguably when he got down on his knees after jumping the last fence on a rookie hunt at last year’s festival and was at his mercy.

Thankfully, there shouldn’t be any repeat drama this time around.

Commenting on last year’s hiccup, Townend said: “He’s matured, grown up, a little bit older and a little bit wiser, like all of us.

“He’s the complete package now.”

Mullins credited Townend’s great racing tactics.

“I had asked Paul to calm him down and ride him like the fastest and best horse and he did,” said the Irish Maestro.

– ‘All About Endurance’ –

“I was wondering if we overdid it a bit midway but they poured it forward.

“It’s all about stamina and taking him out and Paul rode him like that.”

Last year’s Grand National winner Noble Yeats finished fourth in a striking performance as he prepares to defend his Aintree crown next month.

Two who failed to fire were Henry de Bromhead-trained duo A Plus Tard, who won last year but this time were pulled up by Rachael Blackmore, and Minella Indo, Gold Cup champion in 2021, who also failed to to finish the grueling Three Miles, a two-and-a-half-stay (5300m) race course nestled in the Cotswold hills of Gloucestershire.

This was the fifth Grade One win of the week for both Mullins and Townend – and if the horse gods keep smiling on Galopin Des Champs, Mullins will be hoping he’ll be back in 12 months to defend his crown.

“We won the Gold Cup this year and you want to think that next year we would come back and be the favorite and win it again,” he said.


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