Cheltenham Day 4: Galopin Des Champs captures Gold Cup glory

The 2023 Cheltenham Festival has concluded, with the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs running out the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, justifying 6/4 favoritism. 

He was given a superb ride by Irish champion jockey Paul Townend, who picked off a number of rivals with a late surge, before coming up alongside the superb jumper Bravemansgame, and leaving him for dust in the final few yards - scoring with seven lengths in hand. 


It was a disappointing race for Henry de Bromhead’s Gold Cup winning duo of A Plus Tard and Minella Indo. The latter was pulled up by reserve rider Nico De Boinville after initial jockey Mark Walsh was stood down through injury, while A Plus Tard was badly hampered by the fall of Ahoy Senor before eventually being pulled up also. 

The victory of Galopin Des Champs gave Willie Mullins his third Gold Cup in the last five years, and he was delighted with the performance of the captivating chaser. 


“We put ourselves under pressure by saying he had enough stamina to win a Gold Cup, I thought he had enough class to win a Gold Cup. He won a three-mile hurdle as a novice but when Al Boum Photo won it there wasn't a weight of expectation behind it, but there was behind this guy. I didn't realise how much pressure there was on us until the third-last."

"I had asked Paul to settle him and ride him like the fastest and best horse and that's what he's done," he explained. "I was wondering if we'd overdone it a bit at the halfway stage but they were pouring it on at the front. 

"Adam Connolly, his groom, keeps the lid on him. We don't do as much fast work with him, it's all about stamina and getting him switched off and Paul has ridden him like that. I was wondering if we'd overdone it a bit at the halfway stage but they were pouring it on at the front. We won the Gold Cup this year and you'd like to think we'd come back next year and be favourite and win it again."

Winning rider Paul Townend admitted it wasn’t all plain sailing in having to avoid those falling and providing the traffic, but he was absolutely delighted to ride the champion yet again. 

"It wasn't clean sailing, everywhere I went I ran into trouble," Townend said. "His jumping got a bit careful for the first circuit but going out I had full faith in him that he'd get me out of trouble and he did. He's a proper, proper horse because he's ran about three different races and still won a Gold Cup. I was delighted to see them all going at it in front of me as it allowed me a chance to fill up and be the last one on the scene. This race is just different – it brings winning to a different level."

“As brilliant a ride as I have ever seen in a horserace – talk about riding a horse with bottle. Oh my god. Talk about pressure – the privilege of pressure – and oh my god he’s coped with it better than anyone I’ve ever seen”, said 15-time champion jockey AP McCoy of Townend’s performance. 

Lossiemouth triumphs

The day got off to the perfect start for all involved at Closutton, as Lossiemouth bounced back from her Dublin Racing Festival disappointment, the filly staying on with poise to reverse the form with stablemate Gala Marceau in the Triumph Hurdle at 11/8. 

It was a stunning 1-2-3-4 for the yard, and Mullins was never doubtful of her ability. 

“Rather than fighting Lossiemouth, Paul let her gallop and held on to her for as long as he could. Once she jumped the last it was just a matter of hanging on, and he actually thinks there’s more in the tank. She’s a star filly. But for the traffic problems she encountered at Leopardstown, she’d be unbeaten for us."

McManus's magic hour

Colm Murphy rolled back the years with a Cheltenham Festival winner as the JP McManus-owned Impervious was a deserved victor of the Mares’ Chase, battling back gallantly to head market leader Allegorie De Vassy at odds of 15/8. 

She picked up when asked on every occasion for Brian Hayes, and had two and a quarter lengths in hand at the line. 

Impervious's breeder Tom O'Doherty was in attendance to watch her battle back up the famed Prestbury Park Hill. 

"I'm absolutely over the moon and she is one tough cookie. Little did I think when I sold my foal for €4,000 that JP McManus would end up buying her and winning at the Cheltenham Festival."

It started a fine hour for JP McManus as Iroko, ridden by Aidan Kelly and trained by Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerreiro, stayed on strongly to come between horses and capture the closing Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at odds of 6/1, beating another McManus runner in No Ordinary Joe. 


“We went a good gallop”, said Kelly. “I was kind of struggling a small bit and nudging him along. He’s an out and out stayer, he should’ve handled the hill well and thank God he did. It’s my first time here. To ride a winner today, it’s amazing. I still can’t believe it.”

British bite back

There were a host of British trained successes on day two, as the UK captured the County Hurdle, Albert Bartlett Hurdle and the Foxhunters Chase as well as the Martin Pipe. 

Dan Skelton and daughter-in-law Bridget Andrews combined with 33/1 shot Faivoir to capture the County Hurdle, staying on well on the rail to deny Davy Russell his final ever Cheltenham winner aboard Pied Piper. 

The Henry de Bromhead trained Ballyadam ran on well into a close fifth, but the spoils belonged to the Brits. 

“All power to Bridget. Once Faivoir went down to the last like that I just felt it was possible. That was absolutely brilliant from Bridget”, said winning trainer, Skelton. 

“She doesn’t get many dances on the big stage because obviously Harry [Skelton] takes precedence, but as you can see she's more than capable and I'm very proud of her. Faivoir is a good horse on his day and understands the big fields.”

Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls landed their second winner of the week as Stay Away Fay powered up the Cheltenham hill in the Albert Bartlett, scoring by a length from 150/1 outsider Affordale Fury at odds of 18/1. 

Nicholls had told many of his confidence in his runner on the preview circuits, and his word proved truth when push came to shove. 

"I thought a lot of him. He's just been a bit backwards but I was sure he'd run well”, said the Ditcheat handler. 

“I felt he would win turning in because he's a very strong stayer. I knew he wouldn't stop. He's a smart young horse who probably should have won last time. He's taken a real step forward and looked fantastic. We rode him very positively. He jumped really well and it's only his third run under rules so we hope there's plenty of improvement."

Prolific point-to-point winner Premier Magic, trained and ridden by Bradley Gibbs, sprang a 66-1 shock in the Hunters’ Chase.

Declan Queally’s Rocky’s Howya had made much of the running and was still upsides jumping the second last as Gibbs made his move. Though looking booked for minor honours, he was hampered by a loose horse and as Premier Magic started to empty, the winner just had enough in reserve to fend off the challenge and win by a length and three-quarters. 

“The worst part about it is my partner and my son aren’t here today. We couldn’t get a babysitter and my dad’s in hospital having a heart operation today. It’s really special but I just wish they could have been here”, said Gibbs. 

“It was unbelievable, my fiancee’s father owns him and we came here last year thinking we had a chance. I rode him down the inside and everything just got a bit tight for him, he just got stage fright really. I rode him wide today and he was a completely different horse. The way he’s been winning his point-to-points, we always thought he was good enough to win a big race like this and thank god it’s paid off today.”