Galopin Des Champs triumphs in Cheltenham Gold Cup
Galopin Des Champs gained sweet redemption when he captured the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup under a ride Sir AP McCoy hailed as the best he had ever seen.
Last Year’s Defeat
A year ago the 7-5 favourite approached the last fence of the Turners Novices’ Chase with the race in the bag, only to crash to the ground on the landing side.
It was Galopin Des Champs’ only defeat over fences and remained that way after he cleared the bogey fence and drew away from Bravemansgame to land the spoils after a perfectly executed waiting ride by jockey Paul Townend.
“That was as brilliant, as brilliant a ride as I’ve ever seen in any horse race,” said 20-time champion jockey McCoy on ITV. “Talk about riding a horse with bottle. Oh my God! Talk about the pressure, the privilege and pressure. My God he coped with it better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Rough and Tumble Race
Galopin Des Champs survived a rough and tumble race, starting towards the back of the field before inching his way forward on the second circuit of the three and a quarter mile race.
Disaster was narrowly avoided at the sixth last fence where Ahoy Senor fell, bringing down Sounds Russian, then Hewick took a heavy fall at the second last when still in the mix, but Townend waited until the final fence to launch his challenge and went on to win by seven lengths.
Conflated, under Sam Ewing who was a late replacement for Davy Russell who was too sore to ride. finished third with last year’s Grand National winner Noble Yeats running into fourth. Last year’s winner A Plus Tard, under Rachael Blackmore, was pulled up after being hampered when Ahoy Senor came down.
The Three Different Races
“It wasn’t clean sailing, that’s for sure,” said Townend. “Everywhere I went I ran into bits of trouble. His jumping just got a bit careful on the first circuit but going out I had full faith in him, that he was going to get me out of trouble, And he did.
“He’s ran about three different races and still won a Gold Cup. This race is just different. It brings winning to a different level.”
Ride of the Week, If Not the Year
Mullins was thrilled to see Galopin Des Champs live up to his hype, adding that Townend had produced “the ride of the week, if not the year”.
“We put ourselves under pressure by saying he had enough stamina to win a Gold Cup,” he said. “I thought he had enough class to win a Gold Cup.
“There was huge weight of expectation behind this guy. I didn’t realise how much pressure until the third last when I saw Paul and he came back on the bridle. I thought it was going to happen.
“Through the race you are wondering if he was too far back. I’d asked Paul to settle him that they would try to sap his stamina. I said, ‘You’ve got the best horse, you’ve got the fastest horse. You just ride him like you are on the fast horse from the second last home’. Paul is so good under pressure.”