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Galopin Des Champs & Bravemansgame
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Horse Racing: Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame set for major rematch

The Punchestown Festival dominates this week and on Wednesday it's set to showcase a rematch between Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs and runner-up Bravemansgame.

The pair stretched clear in the Cotswolds for their own personal duel, with Galopin Des Champs inspired under a patient ride from Paul Townend in collecting the prize from Paul Nicholls' King George winner.

They are the headline acts in a six-runner Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday, with Ryanair Chase winner Envoi Allen and Hewick - who was still going well when he fell two out in the Gold Cup - amongst the opposition.

After coming off second-best on St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham, could Bravemansgame enter the Lion's Den of Punchestown and down Galopin Des Champs on home soil? 

WhatPunchestown Gold Cup
WherePunchestown Racecourse, Co Kildare
When5.55, Wednesday 26th April
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, Racing TV, RTE
OddsGalopin Des Champs 3/10, Bravemansgame 9/2, Envoi Allen 11/1, Hewick 25/1

Galopin Des Champs all class in the Cotswolds

After last month's Gold Cup glory at Cheltenham, he is officially the best jumps horse in training and Galopin Des Champs has offered no signs at home since that there will be any lingering hangover from that stellar performance.

Townend earned plenty of plaudits for a patient ride that afternoon, but the champion jockey admitted afterwards that, to some degree, the waiting tactics were forced on him as the race unfolded.

With no Ahoy Senor up front this time and just five rivals as opposed to a dozen in Cheltenham 40 days ago, things may play out differently.

Galopin Des Champs is 3/10 to maintain his superiority and complete a perfect sequence of four wins this season.

David Casey, assistant trainer at Closutton, feels everything is in place for another big run and suggests he never held any doubts about the longer trip last time.

"Galopin Des Champs seems very good at home. He's got loads of class and obviously got a great ride at Cheltenham," said Casey.

"He did what I thought he might do in the Gold Cup. I was never in the least bit worried about his stamina.

"Any time I ride him at home, maybe four or five times a year, he has always felt like a stayer to me. Stamina was never an issue going to Cheltenham and he proved that in the race."

On the form from Cheltenham and with connections sounding confident, it will take a mammoth showing to prevent a record-extending seventh win in the race for Ireland's champion trainer Willie Mullins.

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Nicholls relieved to be back in the game

Mullins has won three of the last four renewals of this race and it was Britain's champion handler Nicholls who broke the sequence when Clan Des Obeaux denied Al Boum Photo in 2021.

Now the Ditcheat supremo heads for Punchestown with another King George hero in Bravemansgame seeking to deny the home team and win this race for a fourth time in his career.

It has, of course, been a testing month or so since Cheltenham, with well-documented ownership issues preventing Bravemansgame from competing at Aintree.

However, that has merely allowed us to get excited about this rematch between the top staying chasers in Britain and Ireland.

"He looks absolutely fantastic, I really couldn't be any happier with how he looks," said Nicholls.

"Harry Cobden gave him a little school over a few fences this morning (Monday) and he was terrific. Everything has gone well for him since Cheltenham and we're really looking forward to the race."

Bravemansgame is 9/2 to reverse placings from Cheltenham and owner Bryan Drew has dismissed doubts about his pride and joy, believing that his best days lie ahead.

He said: "There's been a lot of rubbish talked about the horse, that he doesn't get undulating trips, this, that and the other.

"I think he's been very undersold and underrated. I hope in the next couple of years he can prove everyone wrong."

It's a rematch to get the juices flowing, that is for sure, and it could prove one of the highlights of the five days at Punchestown if the big pair settle down for another battle.

Of course, Shark Hanlon will be convinced that 33/1 Hewick was far from done when he came down at Cheltenham and Jordan Gainford's partner could have a say.

Meanwhile, Envoi Allen was a Grade 1 winner at this distance at Down Royal in November and his Ryanair Chase defeat of Shishkin looks all the better now.

Henry De Bromhead's nine-year-old is 11/1 to stun his younger rivals.

All eyes will be on Punchestown come Wednesday evening for one of the last remaining blockbuster collisions of the National Hunt season.

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