Galopin Des Champs: everything you need to know about the favourite for a ‘tip-top’ Cheltenham Gold Cup

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  • Ireland’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins is hoping star chaser Galopin Des Champs can follow in the footsteps of stable-mate Al Boum Photo in 2019-2020 and win back-to-back Gold Cups at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival (12-15 March).

    Willie is the most successful trainer in Cheltenham Festival history with 94 wins to his name and he’ll be hoping to hit the century mark over the four days of action at Prestbury Park for jump racing’s Olympics.

    The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on Friday (15 March) and what a story it would be if Willie Mullins could celebrate his 100th Festival winner in a race which is celebrating its centenary this year.

    Willie Mullins: “It’ll be a tip-top Gold Cup, I think”

    Eight-year-old Galopin Des Champs, who runs in the colours of Audrey Turley, justified favouritism to win last year’s race and again heads for Friday’s feature race at the top of the betting market. His key rivals include the Martin Brassil-trained Fastorslow, Shishkin, Bravemansgame, Hewick, L’Homme Presse and Grand National winner Corach Rambler.

    “It’ll be a tip-top Gold Cup I think,” says Willie. “We have some fantastic horses going over for the Cheltenham Festival, from the stars like Galopin Des Champs, right the way through to the Bumpers and we’re strong in most divisions. But Galopin is in great form.

    “Galopin Des Champs is definitely enjoying being ridden more prominently on his past two starts. I had wanted him ridden off the pace for the two years before that because he was too keen and I felt he’d get thrown into a battle, which didn’t happen last year. This year I don’t mind how he’s ridden, he’s stronger and he’s more mature now, I think he’d be up for it.”

    Galopin Des Champs: a red football goes everywhere with him

    Closutton barn manager Adam Connolly has the enviable job of riding the highest rated horse every day.

    “You can really feel the engine under you,” he says. “I’ve been riding him since before he was a Gold Cup winner, so he feels no different to me, but I realise when everyone comes over to see him that he’s special.

    “At the races, he probably calms me down now – he used to jump around like a mad hooligan. He has a football in his stable with him, which I just gave him for the craic. He doesn’t play with it much now, but I’m superstitious so the red ball goes everywhere with him now.”

    “It’s a tactical game and they’d outrun me any day!”

    Galopin Des Champs goes out in the field with Grand National contender Mr Incredible.

    “Mr Incredible doesn’t want to be caught though – if you can catch Galopin, you can catch the other lad, but you can’t catch Mr Incredible first because you won’t get near him!” says Adam. “It’s a tactical game and they’d outrun me any day!”

    Willie Mullins is hoping Galopin Des Champ’s dual Festival-winning stable-mate Monkfish, who has spent some considerable time on the sidelines through injury, could also line up for the 2024 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

    “We’ll hopefully have two runners in the Gold Cup,” says Willie. “Monkfish is also in the Stayers’ Hurdle, but if enough rain comes and the ground is nice for him, we seriously have to consider Monkfish for the Gold Cup. He has the class and he came back in good order at Gowran, albeit over hurdles.”

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