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Upping The Ante: Galopin Des Champs the one to beat in Gold Cup

David Jennings and Johnny Dineen returned for episode seven of Upping The Ante this week as they looked back at recent action and ahead to the festive period of racing.

The pair also reflected on one of the biggest stories of the weekend, as Davy Russell retired from the saddle. 

Here is a look at some of the highlights of the show.

Galopin Des Champs the rightful Gold Cup favourite for Dineen

Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs made his return to action on Monday in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown. 

Willie Mullins' runner was long odds-on to make a winning seasonal reappearance, and he did that in style, beating Fakir D'oudairies by 13 lengths.

The Irish horse, who has now won four of his five races over fences, is the 7/4 ante-post Win and Each Way market leader for the Blue Riband event at the Festival in March.

Dineen was impressed by what he saw from the six-year-old, admitting: "It was a nine out of 10 performance. I like the fact he was able to settle, jump well and he put the race to bed comfortably. He was expected to win, but if you are on him ante-post for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, you will be pleased with what you saw.

"He is a young horse that is on the way up and they are usually the ones you want to be on for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. On the evidence of that run at Punchestown, he is the one they all have to beat in March."

Jennings was also full of praise for the second-season chaser in the Grade One contest on Monday afternoon.

He said: "What I loved about the performance was, it was like an experiment from Paul Townend. He kept him restrained for as long as possible, and then when it came to the crunch, he was pushed out to see what he was made of. I think they are moulding him out to be a Gold Cup horse.

"Last season I don't think he was a Gold Cup horse, and he had a lot of learning still to do. That is not the case this season. He is in the mix for sure."

Russell one of the best of all time

Russell announced his immediate retirement from the saddle on Sunday following a victory at Thurles. 

It was news that caught many by surprise, including Jennings and Dineen, and the pair discussed what a great career the Irishman has had.

Dineen said: "In terms of the five best jockeys I have ever seen, Ruby Walsh would be number one, I've never seen a better rider than Ruby. Barry Geraghty would be next. Three would be Richard Dunwoody, he was an artist with a great brain. Davy Russell would come in at four and then Tony McCoy at five.

"Davy has been a great rider. To fit in among the likes of Walsh, Geraghty and McCoy says it all."

Jennings said: "When Davy was on the right horse at the Cheltenham Festival, the likes of Presenting Percy, that just needed to be tucked away and slowly brought into a race, he was glorious."

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Bravemansgame Fancied for King George success

The King George VI Chase is the feature race at Kempton on Boxing Day and Dineen and Jennings both agreed that this contest is the one Bravemansgame has been aimed at for some time. 

They both like the chances of Paul Nicholls' runner who is the 15/8 joint-favourite alongside L'Homme Presse in the Win and Each Way market.

Jennings said: "The King George has been Bravemansgame's World Cup for two years now. Even going into the Kauto Star Novices' Chase 12 months ago, Nicholls was talking about the King George. 

"With L'Homme Presse, the path has not always been clear. His main target is likely to be the Gold Cup in March."

Dineen said: "The King George was probably not even in consideration for L'Homme Presse just a month ago. I spoke to a good judge recently and he said L'Homme Presse's form right-handed is not as good, so that is a factor to consider. I think Bravemansgame is the one to beat."

Kennedy will be the key to Leopardstown feature 

The Grade One Brand New Racing Post App Novice Chase is the feature race at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and Dineen believes Jack Kennedy will give punters the biggest clue for this race. 

He said: "The horse which Jack Kennedy picks in this race will probably be the one which wins. 

"He will have the choice of the Gordon Elliott runners. I think he will go for Fil Dor, and if that is the case, that says everything you need to know."

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