Galopin Des Champs wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Willie Mullins

Galopin Des Champs wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Willie Mullins as Paul Townend produces a brilliant ride to edge Bravemansgame after defending champion A Plus Tard was pulled up in pulsating race

  • Favourite Galopin Des Champs was ridden beautifully by Paul Townend to win
  • FOLLOW: Sportsmail’s live coverage of the final day of the Cheltenham Festival

Favourite Galopin Des Champs has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup after a brilliant ride by Paul Townend. 

In a pulsating edition of the Gold Cup, Galopin Des Champs avoided the carnage that forced two of the horses to pull up and another two to fall at two fences.

Chaos was exacted all over the track, with Ahoy Senor falling and essentially taking A Plus Tard with him, after Rachael Blackmore was forced to pull last year’s winner up having fallen way off the pace. 

With Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame, trained by Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls respectively, going at it hammer and tong heading into the final two fences it looked as though a classic Gold Cup finish could be on the cards, though Townend’s mount ended up romping home by seven lengths.  

Avoiding the mistake it made in last year’s Turner’s Novices’ Chase which allowed Bob Olinger to claim victory, Galopin Des Champs leapt the final hurdle spectacularly before accelerating away.

Paul Townend was visibly emotional at the conclusion of the race which saw him claim his third Gold Cup

Townend, a usually calm and collected figure, celebrated wildly aboard Galopin Des Champs

Going into the final straight neck and neck with Bravemansgame Galopin Des Champs showed irresistible turn of foot 

Capping what has been another brilliant week for Closutton at Cheltenham, Galopin Des Champs lived up to its pre-race favouritism in the market, with Townend having judged the trip spectacularly and carried out Mullins’ instructions to the letter.

There had been serious questions hanging over the head of Galopin about whether he had the stamina to last the trip, with Mullins insisting he was ready to win the Gold Cup.

With just six fences to go, Galopin Des Champs had work to do with the likes of Protektorat and Bravemansgame leading the charge towards the Grand Stand. 

However, as Mullins outlined in his interview with ITV after the race, everyone was aware which horse was the fastest in the race and the turn of foot exacted by the gelding only confirmed that. 

A masterful ride by Townend, questions that had hanged over both jockey and horse were swiftly abolished.

Executing the break at the perfect time, Galopin Des Champs accelerated into the final straight and won by seven clear lengths, showing a turn of foot that Bravemansgame simply does not possess.

Audrey Turley, owner of Galopin Des Champs, speaking to ITV Racing said: ‘It is a dream come true. We never thought we would be here. It is such a wonderful horse. We are just so thrilled. The excitement has been high all week.

Mullins looked delighted after the conclusion of the Gold Cup – claiming his third such triumph

‘I don’t know what to say or what to think. It is so unbelievable and wonderful. We have to thank Willie Mullins and the wonderful team, we wouldn’t be here without them.’

Claiming his third Gold Cup, a usually calm and collected Townend was visibly emotional having passed the finishing post. 

The pressure on the Irishman had been immense in the build up, with criticism over a few of his rides in the days prior. 

‘It wasn’t clean sailing that is for sure! Everywhere I went I was running into trouble,’ he said. ‘A proper, proper horse because he ran three different races and still won a Gold Cup.

‘I was delighted to see it all going on in front of me. It gave me a chance to fill him up after making up a lot of ground. This race is just different. It brings winning to a different level.’

Bravemansgame followed in second, while Conflated, trained by Gordon Elliott, produced a brilliant run off a fair pre-race price to finish third. 

Finishing positions 

1 Galopin Des Champs (Paul Townend) 7-5 Fav

2 Bravemansgame (Harry Cobden) 6-1

3 Conflated (Sam Ewing) 22-1

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power 

Last year’s Grand National hero Noble Yeats finished fourth, opening the possibility for another assault on Aintree in around a month’s time.  

Defending champion, running for Henry de Bromhead with fan favourite Rachael Blackmore on board, was pulled up after falling behind following Ahoy Senor’s fall just a few fences out from the finish. 

In what would have been a true fairytale, A Plus Tard rarely looked like troubling the front pack and those that had expressed concerns over its lack of run in recent months were seemingly vindicated.

Stattler, which had been bet in from 20/1 to 16/1 ahead of the race, never found the trip and had to be pulled up before the horses had even completed their final lap. 

Thanking Mullins and the team at Closutton after the race, Turley said that last year’s mistakes had been forgotten.

‘We’re going to forget all that (last year, when the horse fell at the last fence), these things happen and in racing anything can happen as we know. Here we are, beautiful sunshine and Galopin has won – we’re thrilled.’

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