The Citizen (KZN)

Praise heaped on super Gold Cup winner


Paul Townend has labelled the performanc­e of Galopin Des Champs in Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup as ‘huge’, praising the star chaser's adaptabili­ty for winning the prize in contrastin­g style to his 2023 success.

Townend now has four Gold Cup wins to his name, having also won it back-to-back on Al Boum Photo, and is level with legendary rider Pat Taaffe, who won three on Arkle from 1964-1966, and on Fort Leney in 1968.

Having gone off at 10-11, the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs was the first oddson winner of the Gold Cup since Best Mate in 2004, and he gave his backers little cause for concern as he raced prominentl­y and jumped well en route to a 3.50-length victory over Gerri Colombe.

“The whole week is a bit of a blur, but it was amazing,” said Townend. “El Fabiolo was the main disappoint­ment but apart from that everything went great.

“Galopin Des Champs did it in completely different style to last year and dug in so much. When you get racing at the top of the hill in heavy ground at Cheltenham, it's a long way home. Only the really good ones can do what he did.”

He added on Racing TV: “It was a huge performanc­e and he was so brave. I thought the fuel tank was flashing going to the last, but if I'd eased off the peddle it would have been hard to get going again.

“Fastorslow was stalking us and going well at the time so it was unfortunat­e for everyone involved with him that he unseated. You can't predict what loose horses are going to do and you're just reacting on instinct.

“It's surreal. If someone had offered me four Cheltenham Festival winners when I was starting out, I'd have taken their hand off, never mind four Gold Cups.”

State Man, Gaelic Warrior and Lossiemout­h secured a Grade 1 treble for Townend and Mullins on Day One of the festival. -

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