Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs lived up to the pre-race hype as Paul Townend saw off a brave challenge from Bravesmansgame to win the feature race on the final day of a dramatic Cheltenham Festival.
The win capped a remarkable few days for Willie Mullins after the Irish trainer moved out in front of the winners’ table with six victories, six runner-ups and eight third-placed finishes over the last four days.
Speaking to ITV Racing after the Gold Cup triumph, Mullins said: “Paul is so good under pressure and I have put him under pressure this week!
“We don’t do as much fast work this year, it is all about stamina. The horse is just relaxed, Paul gets them relaxed and puts them asleep, although I did wonder if we had overdone it at the halfway, we were a long way off. We won the Gold Cup this year, you’d like to think we come back next year as favourite and win it but you need a lot of luck. I am just delighted he did what he did.”
There was another Townend win on a pre-race favourite in the opening contest of Friday afternoon as Lossiemouth took the honours in the JCB Triumph Hurdle - but the 32-year-old missed out on market leader Allegorie De Vassy in the penultimate race of the day as 15/8 shot Impervious battled back to claim the Mares’ Chase.
Elsewhere, the favourites came off second best across the board as 33/1 shot Faivour was first past the post in the County Handicap Hurdle and Stay Away Fay took the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdles by seeing off the 150/1-rated Affordable Fury and 28/1 shot Sandor Clegane.
That came after favourite Corbetts Cross looked set to challenge as they approached the final fence but made a major miscalculation by swerving right to send jockey Mark Walsh flying into the plastic barriers and hand a win to Harry Cobden.
Cobden reflected on a fine win, saying: “They went a good even gallop but he is a horse that sits a little bit high in the bridle. Today he travelled very well and jumped great and turning in I thought I had a nice bit left and he was going to stay all the way to the line. He got a good jump at the last but he idled a bit in front.
“He is very tough and obviously a good horse. From a jockey’s point of view it is a long way to be in front from turning in to the last. For an inexperienced horse with the crowd and all the cheering he was pulling up a little bit in front so he did well to keep going.
Winning trainer Paul Nicholls, told ITV Racing: “He looks fantastic. He ran how he looked. He jumped really well. There's lots of improvement to come from him. Having had two winners now I am dead relaxed. It makes such a difference.”
66/1-rated Premier Magic was the winner of the Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase and 6/1 shot Iroko became the final winner of this year’s festival as he saw off the challenge of No Ordinary Joe and Buddy One to be first past the post in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Friday’s results in full:
1.30pm: JCB Triumph Hurdle
1st: Lossiemouth (11/8f) 2nd: Gala Marceau (10/3) 3rd: Zenta (12/1)
2.10pm: McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle
1st: Faivour (33/1) 2nd: Pied Piper(12/1) 3rd: Filey Bay (6/1) 4th: Sharjah (10/1)
2.50: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
1st: Stay Away Fay (18/1) 2nd: Affordable Fury (150/1) 3rd: Sandor Clegane (28/1) 4th: Lesbeclearaboutit (16/1)
3.30: Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
1st: Galopin Des Champs (7/5f) 2nd: Bravemansgame (6/1) 3rd: Conflated (22/1) 4th: Noble Yeats (14/1)
4.10: St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
1st: Premier Magic (66/1) 2nd: Its On The Line (28/1) 3rd: Shantou Flyer (50/1)
4.50: Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase
1st: Impervious (15/8) 2nd: Allegorie De Vassy (13/8f) 3rd: Pink Legend (33/1)
5.30: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
1st: Iroko (6/1) 2nd: No Ordinary Joe (14/1) 3rd: Buddy One (28/1) 4th: Might I (6/1)