Galopin Des Champs simply proved himself a cut above his Cheltenham Gold Cup rivals with a blistering performance in the feature race under Paul Townend and Willie Mullins; Bravemansgame finished second, with Conflated back third; defending champion A Plus Tard and Rachael Blackmore retired
By means of Conor Stroud
16:43, UK, Friday 17 March 2023
The heartbreak of last year’s festival was firmly put aside as Galopin Des Champs clearly won the Cheltenham Gold Cup ahead of Paul Townend and Willie Mullins.
The seven-year-old fell in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase last year when he looked poised for a big win, but that problem would not arise this time.
He jumped and traveled far behind rivals who tried to boost their horses, but it was the red hot favorite who leaped away from the brave Braveman game and Harry Cobden at the final fence to win by seven lengths on the line.
merged ran well to finish third under replacement jockey Sam Ewing, with Davy Russell retiring for the day and last year’s Grand National winner Noble Yeats back in fourth place.
Defending champion See you soon under Rachael, Blackmore was hampered after the fall of Ahoy Senor and was eventually pulled up.
A horse superstar
It was a perfect ride from Paul Townend and no doubt a redemption for the now three-time Gold Cup winner, having suffered an agonizing fall on the verge of beating his rivals at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
That day he appeared to jump the final fence, but threw on landing, sending Townend flying over the horse’s head, leaving Bob Olinger and Blackmore to take an accidental win.
This time, the duo finally needed a giant leap to fend off the threats of Cobden and Bravemansgame, and Townend didn’t let his partner down.
And with the roar of the 70,000-strong sell-out crowd cheering him home, the duo devoured Cheltenham’s famous hill for a stunning victory.
Winning trainer Willie Mullins said after the race: “There was tremendous anticipation behind this guy.
“I wondered if he was too far back and I knew they would sap his stamina, but Paul always went well. He jumped into the race.
“It just worked, he gave him a brilliant, cool ride. Everyone was doubting the distance and his stamina, they’d make it fast enough, so I didn’t want him there in the early transitions.
“If he’s got the class he’ll get through, if he hasn’t it’s no use. All the thoughts going through your head, did we go back too far? They had gone so fast, something had to be given up.
“One or two fell and we missed all of that, we were very lucky. I think that guy on board, when the pressure builds, he’s very good.”
“You would like to think that next year we will come back as favorites and win.”
A delighted Townend added after the race: “It was messy for me – I couldn’t get a clean pass early and he started jumping a bit in the air, but when I got some room, to be fair to him he came got into a rhythm with me again and was very, very brave.
“I think he got me out of a decent gap, to be honest – I was a lot further back than I wanted to be, but it was just the drive I had to give him.
“There was so little fresh ground that everyone wanted to be in it and the start was very messy.
“He was good and brave. There were horses that went to my left and to my right (when the two horses fell on top of the hill) and he always just found a leg, and you need that luck in racing.
“He missed one of the gates coming down the hill, and I thought that would put me back on the back foot a bit, but no, for me right back on the bridle. I don’t think the horse understands how well he is, to be fair.”
He continued: “The Gold Cup takes winning to another level. Cheltenham is very important, but the Gold Cup has that little bit more spice.”