Galopin Des Champs wins Irish Gold Cup to show Cheltenham credentials

Galopin Des Champs underlines status as Cheltenham favourite after storming to victory at the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown

  • Galopin Des Champs won the Irish Gold Cup by eight lengths at Leopardstown
  • The race marked Galopin Des Champs’ first triumph over the three mile distance
  • Trainer Willie Mullins believes the seven-year-old is showing maturity in races 

Galopin Des Champs cemented his status as the one to beat in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 17 with a comprehensive eight-length win in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

You will struggle to find anyone who feels the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old lacks the talent to win the feature race of the Festival.

His only defeat in six steeplechases came when he fell at the final fence in last season’s Turners Novices’ Chase when a second Festival win looked in the bag.

The bigger question is whether the Paul Townend-ridden gelding possesses the stamina for the three and a quarter miles of the Gold Cup, especially given his brilliance in the past has been accompanied by an exuberant style — an energy-sapping tendency not ideal for what can be a gruelling test at Cheltenham.

What Saturday’s victory — his first over three miles over fences — indicated was that the odds of him staying look good. More importantly, the head-strong style of racing has gone. Galopin Des Champs was far more measured in pressing clear of stablemate Stattler.

Galopin Des Champs pulled clear to win the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown

The victory cements Galopin Des Champs as favourite for next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup

Bookmakers generally eased the Gold Cup odds of Galopin — he is a top-priced 7-4 — but that looked more down to attempts to stimulate life into the ante-post market than uncovering chinks in his make-up. Mullins said: ‘What I love about him now is that he’s settling. Paul is able to put him wherever he wants him in a race. That’s crucial for tactics.

‘He used to be a little keen over shorter trips but now he’s able to put him asleep. I think it’s just maturity.

‘We’re more relaxed training him now, we know he has gears. I was always confident that he’d stay and we probably don’t do as much speed work with him nowadays.

‘This fella is making a name for himself. He’s still young in steeplechasing terms and where he’ll be at the end of his career, we’ll see. It’s all going forward at the moment.’

Three of Saturday’s four grade ones on day one of the Dublin Racing Festival went to Mullins, though not with the horses expected.

The Danny Mullins-ridden Gala Marceau beat stablemate and Townend-ridden favourite Lossiemouth — who got shuffled back — in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle.

And Appreciate It, the Townend-ridden favourite for the Arkle Novices’ Chase, looked short of pace and in need of further when only third to impressive Daryl Jacob- ridden stablemate El Fabiolo.

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