After an excellent novice campaign last season, a lot has been expected of Galopin Des Champs and the Irish horse has not disappointed, producing two excellent performances to establish himself as the one to beat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
As we get closer to the 2023 Cheltenham Festival, we are looking at some of the horses expected to play major roles in the Cotswolds, including the Blue Riband event of the meeting.
|What||Cheltenham Gold Cup|
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||3.30, Friday 17th March, 2023|
|How to watch||ITV Racing, Racing TV & bet365 Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||Galopin Des Champs 11/8, Stattler 7/1, Noble Yeats 8/1, A Plus Tard 8/1, Bravemansgame 9/1, Ahoy Senor 12/1, Conflated 12/1, Protektorat 18/1|
The Irish Gold Cup was the feature race on day one of the Dublin Racing Festival and Galopin Des Champs enhanced his reputation further with an eight-length success in the Grade One contest, getting the better of Stattler and Fury Road.
The second-season chaser was pushed hard by Stattler in the closing stages at Leopardstown and, despite an untidy jump at the final obstacle, he showed his class, speed and stamina to stretch away from his stablemate in the run to the finish line.
Sizing John was the last horse to win the Irish Gold Cup and then prevail in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Festival a month later. Fodami achieved that feat in 1993, while Imperial Call completed the double in 1996. Galopin Des Champs is 11/8 to become the fourth horse in history to win both contests in the same season.
Galopin Des Champs was on course for one of the most dominant performances of the week at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival. He was clear of his rivals approaching the final fence in the 2022 Turners Novices’ Chase, before making an error at that obstacle and coming down.
A month later, Galopin Des Champs bounced back with a Grade One success to end the campaign at Fairyhouse. He also opened up his 2022/23 campaign with victory in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, showcasing his speed over 2m4f.
Cheltenham Festival: Delta Work
His rider Paul Townend was deflated following his final fence drama in the Turners Novices’ Chase last March. He believes the horse has matured since then, as he discussed following their success in the Irish Gold Cup.
"Last year he was brilliant and exuberant, but this year he has matured a lot and was there any time I wanted," he said. "What he did at the last, with the intimidation he was getting, impressed me. "He’s doing things the right way now, as a novice he was doing nothing wrong bar that day at Cheltenham, but the route he’s going down and what he’s showing us now is proper mature."
Irish trainer Mullins is the most successful Cheltenham Festival trainer in history with 88 winners. He has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, with Al Boum Photo providing him with victories in 2019 and 2020.
Mullins is not concerned about the extra distance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is confident of another big showing from his horse.
"He seemed to gallop away through the line. What I love about him now is that he’s settling, he’s not keen and Paul is able to put him wherever he wants him in a race. That’s crucial for tactics going forward," he said. "I was always confident that he’d stay, and we probably don’t do as much speed work with him nowadays."
Irish-trained horses have won six of the last seven renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, including the last four races. The betting for the feature race of the Festival is dominated by horses from Ireland once again.
Stattler is 7/1 to reverse the form with Galopin Des Champs in the Championship race on day four of the meeting next month. Mullins’ chaser won the National Hunt Challenge Cup at the meeting in 2022, a race over 3m6f. He is likely to relish the extra 2½f in the Gold Cup.
Grand National hero Noble Yeats is 8/1 to follow up from his success at Aintree with victory in the most prestigious race on the National Hunt calendar. Emmet Mullins’ runner has prevailed at Wexford and Aintree this season, with the latter of those two wins coming in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase.
Defending champion A Plus Tard has featured just once so far this season. He was pulled up at Haydock in the Betfair Chase in November. Henry De Bromhead’s chaser is 8/1 to bounce back at Cheltenham by defending his crown in the 3m2½f contest.