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Punchestown Gold Cup: Fastorslow stuns Galopin Des Champs

After a thrilling battle at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a scintillating rematch was expected between Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame for the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Punters were adamant that Willie Mullins' Galopin Des Champs would eventually see off Bravemansgame after a thrilling battle, and they were right, but they did not expect the pair to fight it out for second and third.

As the five-runner field reach the business end of the race at Punchestown, Fastorslow found more to land a shock win at odds of 20/1.

It was an incredible performance from Martin Brassil's charge, and it is the latest shock in what has been an enthralling jumps season.

Fastorslow throws his hat in the mix

At 20/1, nobody expected Fastorslow to prevail at the end of a gruelling race at Punchestown, but connections were left delighted after the performance of his career.

Critics had questioned his stamina, and at one point, they looked to have been proven correct as he became outpaced.

However, the rigours of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March seemed to catch up with Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame, with the latter making an error at the last that may have cost Paul Nicholls' charge the race.

Fastorslow made history on Wednesday as he won his first race in Ireland or Britain, with his last success coming in 2019 at Auteuil.

When asked about his performance, Brassil said he had every faith he could run a strong race, but even he expected the big names to prevail.

He told reporters: "He was going to be carrying top weight in a lot of those handicaps, so we just felt we might as well dip our toe in the water and see how much we find.

"There were only five runners, and the first two in the betting had hard races in the Gold Cup. If there was a bit of a chink in the armour, I thought we could hopefully exploit that. I didn't think we'd win, but I thought we wouldn't be far away.

"JJ [Slevin] is a cool customer, he took the shortest way around, and the horse jumped well, everything fell into place."

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Punchestown drama the latest in a thrilling campaign

Wednesday's shock result was not the only one of the current jumps season, which is set to come to an end this weekend.

In December, the once invincible Honeysuckle suffered her first defeat at Fairyhouse in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle.

The odds-on favourite was expected to cruise to her 17th straight victory, but Teahupoo got the better of her.

She then suffered another defeat at Leopardstown in February, before bowing out in style with a win at Cheltenham in the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle on an emotional afternoon in March for trainer Henry De Bromhead. 

In January, Energumene failed to win the Clarence House Chase at Prestbury Park, finishing third behind Editeur Du Gite and Edwardstone, having been a 4/9 favourite.

Like Honeysuckle, he has since returned to the winners' circle, winning Grade 1s at Cheltenham and Punchestown in the last few weeks.

Those that backed Gerri Colombe at Cheltenham may still be reeling, as Gordon Elliott's runner was just pipped by The Real Whacker.

He proved that might have been a minor blip at Aintree earlier this month, as he won the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices' Chase by over seven-lengths allowing Davy Russell to cap his career in fitting style at the Merseyside venue. 

That performance will certainly have restored connections' faith in him, and he is 7/1 to win next year's Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Still time for more drama

National Hunt fans can enjoy one final hoorah this weekend, with the bet365 Jump Finale taking place at Sandown on Saturday.

The jumps campaign in Britain comes to an end with the Grade 1 bet365 Celebration Chase and the historic bet365 Gold Cup.

Scottish Grand National winner, Kitty's Light, is 4/1 to win the latter, while fan favourite Frodon can be backed at odds of 8/1.

While the spotlight will be on Sandown in the UK, the Punchestown Mares' Champion Hurdle also takes place on Saturday as the National Hunt season comes to a close with a bang and Harry Fry's Love Envoi – second to Honeysuckle at Cheltenham last month – trades at 11/8 to confirm her superiority over the likes Echoes In Rain (4/1), Queens Brook (11/2), Brandy Love (7/1) and Epatante (7/1) from the Cotswolds race last time.

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