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Savills Chase Review: Galopin Des Champs returns to the top

Galopin Des Champs is once more the strong ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after his barnstorming success in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

The Willie Mullins-trained star was set for a real duel with up-and-comer Gerri Colombe from the Gordon Elliott team but, in truth, it was a one-horse race in the home straight as Paul Townend cruised clear on Galopin Des Champs.

The defending champion is now 11/8 for a second Gold Cup win at the Cheltenham Festival on 15th March, while Gerri Colombe is out to 9/1 for the same contest.

Galopin back to his brilliant best

Galopin Des Champs bounced back to his brilliant best to land the Grade 1 Savills Chase in awesome fashion under Paul Townend at Leopardstown.

Last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup hero was defeated at Punchestown either side of a summer lay-off, losing out to Fastorslow in the Gold Cup there in April and the John Durkan in November.

That ensured there were question marks over him and whether or not the stunning Gold Cup win had left a mark on Galopin Des Champs.

He answered any queries in emphatic fashion, coming up the home straight in isolation for a whopping 23-length win in the festive feature.

He went from 3/1 in to 11/8 to retain the Gold Cup. His old rival Fastorslow was a non-runner at Leopardstown on account of the testing ground and remains at 7/2 for Cheltenham in March. 

Gerri Colombe had no answers

Elliott's Conflated in the hands of Sam Ewing cut out most of the running in the Savills, but a high-quality field were never far behind last year's victor. Conflated was backpedalling when he unseated his rider at the last. 

Gerri Colombe - beaten only once previously over fences - had come into the race with a growing reputation, but he was powerless to lay a blow on Galopin Des Champs after the third last.

Jack Kennedy's mount battled gamely to hold off Capodanno under Brian Hayes for second spot.

Willie Mullins had four of the first five home as I Am Maximus was fourth and Appreciate It fifth, ahead of another former Gold Cup kingpin, A Plus Tard, in sixth and a long way last of the finishers. 

For Gerri Colombe's connections this moment of truth had produced a comprehensive defeat. They will be hoping that their charge can get much closer on better ground come the spring. 

Galopin dominates Blue Riband betting 

Galopin Des Champs is now a strong favourite to give Mullins his fourth Cheltenham Gold Cup win in six years.

For a long time, the race eluded the Closutton maestro, but after Al Boum Photo's wins in 2019 and 2020, Galopin Des Champs now looks a real contender to emulate him with back-to-back wins.

Hewick - winner of the King George on Boxing Day at Kempton and a faller in the Gold Cup last season when seemingly going well three out - is 14/1 for the 2024 Cheltenham Gold Cup and trainer Shark Hanlon has confirmed that that is his intended target in the spring. 

Shishkin, who unseated at Kempton with the race apparently at his mercy, is a 12/1 chance for Nicky Henderson to come good in the Cotswolds. 

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