Despite doubts over his stamina, Galopin Des Champs proved he belongs at the highest level after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
|What||Cheltenham Gold Cup|
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||3.30, Friday 15th March, 2024|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV Racing & Racing TV|
|Odds||Galopin Des Champs 2/1, Gerri Colombe 7/1, Shishkin 10/1, Bravemansgame 12/1, L'homme Presse|
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 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 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 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.
His rider was deflated following his final fence drama in the Turners Novices' Chase last March.
He claimed the seven-year-old had matured since then after his success during the Irish Gold Cup, and he was spot on as Mullins' charge romped to victory at Cheltenham.
Townend and Mullins earned a third success in five years after a stunning display, beating King George winner Bravemansgame by seven lengths.
Mullins had always assured his critics he had the stamina and class to get the job done, and he is now 2/1 to repeat his success at the 2024 Festival.
Sadly for connections, Galopin Des Champs could not end the season with an unbeaten record.
After three successive wins, he was expected to win the Punchestown Gold Cup in April, but the 4/11 favourite failed to get the job done and was beaten by Fastorslow.
Fastorslow was a shock 20/1 winner for the feature race at Punchestown, but it will only make Mullins and his team determined to make amends next season.
Mullins will feel, barring injury, Galopin Des Champs can defend his Gold Cup crown as Ireland looks to continue its dominance in the race.
Irish-trained horses have won seven of the last eight renewals of the Gold Cup, including the previous five contests.
Shishkin remains Great Britain's best runner in the ante-post market at 10/1, closely followed by Paul Nicholls' Bravemansgame at 12/1.
Connections of both of those horses will take great confidence from the Punchestown Gold Cup result, but if Galopin Des Champs can show the same form he showed at Cheltenham, we should be in for a fascinating battle at Prestbury Park in 2024.