Can Galopin Des Champs become a Cheltenham great?

Cheltenham Festival

Galopin Des Champs delivered a dominant win for Willie Mullins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, timing his surge down the stretch to perfection to claim the crown. It was the third time in the last five years that Mullins triumphed in the race, having failed to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham before Al Boum Photo rode to success in 2019.

Al Boum Photo reeled off a second win in a row in 2020 before Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Indo and A Plus Tard stole the show in back-to-back years. Galopin Des Champs restored Mullins to the winners’ circle and the performance for the French thoroughbred will give the Irishman plenty of confidence that he can return in 2024 to win the crown for a second time.

Bouncing Back

Given the age and brilliance of the horse, there could even be a belief that he could match the exceptional Best Mate for three successive victories in the race. In the ante-post wagering available if you bet on horses online looking ahead to Cheltenham 2024, Galopin Des Champs is the early favourite at 11/8.

Galopin Des Champs was humbled on his return to Cheltenham in 2022 after winning the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in his first appearance in 2021. The French thoroughbred appeared to be storming to victory in the Browns’ Advisory Novices’ Chase ahead of his rival Bob Olinger, but he fell at the final hurdle and presented the victory to De Bromhead’s charge. Although he was considered the leading contender at Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, there would have natural fears between jockey Paul Townend and Mullins about whether lightning would strike twice at the Festival.

However, Galopin Des Champs was exceptional throughout the contest as he managed to keep pace with the field before storming away down the stretch to beat a quality competitor in the form of Bravemansgame by seven lengths. It was one of the most polished performances of the week from horse and jockey, and ensured that Mullins clinched his third Gold Cup. The question now is whether Galopin Des Champs can sustain his success.

Emulating Al Boum Photo or Best Mate?

At the age of seven, Galopin Des Champs is the same age as both Al Boum Photo and Best Mate when they won their first Gold Cups. Al Boum Photo was an outsider in his first triumph in 2019 but returned as the favourite in 2020 to storm to the victory. He performed well in 2021 too, only to place down in third behind Minella Indo and A Plus Tard, falling short of Best Mate’s record.

Best Mate was a 7/1 outsider in his first race in 2002 as he edged out Commanche Court. He was dominant on his return in 2003 to close out his triumph by 10 lengths. Henrietta Knight sent her charge for glory in 2004 as the odds-on favourite, and he delivered by a fine margin to etch his place in the history of the Gold Cup.

Galopin Des Champs has one Gold Cup under his belt already and Mullins can now prepare his charge for the challenges ahead. He managed the French thoroughbred perfectly over the course of the 2022/23 campaign and will look to prepare a similar road to glory, using his nous and experience along with that of Townend to attempt to match Cheltenham all-time greats.

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