Which Race will Galopin Des Champs Run In At The Cheltenham Festival?
It is rare for any horse to go into the winter as a warm favourite for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham having been beaten at the previous season’s festival but there is a good deal more to the Galopin Des Champs story than the bare facts.
At the time of writing, Galloping Des Champs is a red-hot 5/2 favourite with betting sites for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival’s blue-riband contest.
Why is he so short? And is that final-day showpiece even a certain long-range target? Let’s take a look.
Moral Winner Of The Turners Novices’ Chase
Galopin Des Champs has only tasted defeat once in four career starts over fences and that came in the 2022 Turners Novices’ Chase.
The history books will forever show that Bob Olinger won that Grade 1 novice event but the reality on the day was that Galopin Des Champs was in a totally different league to that rival.
Paul Townend’s mount, sent off a 5/6 favourite with betting apps on the day, took no prisoners from the start, going off at a strong gallop and jumping, on the whole, like he was born for the job.
Up until the final fence, he had put Bob Olinger, himself one of Ireland’s most promising novices, to the sword but he knuckled on landing after the last and sent the Cheltenham grandstand into a state of shock.
However, such was the impression the son of Timos had made prior to his fall, UK bookmakers were already chalking him up as favourite for the 2023 showpiece.
Willie Mullins’ charge put the record straight at Fairyhouse the following month, jumping like a buck throughout, drawing a long way clear of his nearest rival without Paul Townend ever having to get overly serious.
His trainer wasted no time telling the media afterwards that he felt Galopin Des Champs was a Gold Cup horse.
Galopin Prominent In Ryanair Chase Betting Lists
The few doubts about Galopin Des Champs’ suitability for the Gold Cup are largely based on the fact that he’s a horse with so much speed, which leads to concerns about him seeing out a Gold Cup trip - especially up Cheltenham’s famous hill.
That speed could be devastating in a race like the Ryanair Chase, which is why he is 7/1 second favourite with horse racing betting sites for the 2m5f race.
However, Mullins already has the red-hot favourite for that race in Allaho who now looks set to go straight to Cheltenham having been ruled out of a King George bid on Boxing Day.
Galopin Des Champs has recently attracted support for the Kempton showpiece despite his trainer insisting that his preference is to start off in the John Durkan at Punchestown.
Mullins Eying Path To Gold
Speaking at a Horse Racing Ireland press event to launch the jumps season, Mullins spoke of the faith he has in his star six-year-old: “I hope Galopin Des Champs will be our Gold Cup horse"
“He looks the part and is doing everything right at home. We had one little setback a couple of weeks ago but he's back on track again. He's a big horse but doesn't look it – I love that about horses like him. He's so well-proportioned and light on his feet.”
Asked about any Gold Cup stamina concerns, Mullins said: “I've never had a worry about it. I'd be fairly worried about Allaho getting the trip, but I'm not at all worried about Galopin Des Champs. I have that sort of faith in him.
“I'd like to start him off in the John Durkan but it's quite near to Christmas this year on December 11. We didn't run until Christmas last year but I'd like to run him in early December and then go to Leopardstown at Christmas, or Tramore on New Year's Day.”
So, there we have it - the master trainer that is Willie Mullins has absolutely no worries about Galopin Des Champs getting the Gold Cup trip.
Barring accidents along the way, this looks an open and shut case - Galopin Des Champs will run in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and the chances are he’ll win it.
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