Galopin Des Champs produced a brilliant performance to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the final day of the Festival. Willie Mullins' seven year old hadn't been hard pressed to win either the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown or Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown earlier in the season. Stepping up to three and a quarter miles, the ex-French gelding was given a superb ride by Paul Townend creeping into contention on the final circuit. Despite a slight error at the third last, he loomed up travelling strongly at the penultimate fence. Pushed out on the run-in, he scored comfortably by seven lengths confirming the view that he is the best chaser in training. As stated in the Update, Gold Cup winners need speed as well as stamina nowadays - the likes of Noble Yeats and Stattler are out and out stayers and can't live with the very best chasers. Bravemansgame ran a cracker in second for Paul Nicholls. Kept fresh since his win in the King George, the eight year old jumped and travelled well and held every chance at the last. While he couldn't match Galopin Des Champs thereafter, he still pulled over six lengths clear of the third. It was a compelling Gold Cup to watch and won by one of the sports superstars. Still only seven, Gallopin Des Champs will hopefully be back for a few more Gold Cups in future.
The Top 40 Prospects had had a lean few days but better late than never with Lossiemouth (11/8) and Stay Away Fay (18/1) winning the Triumph Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle respectively. Rich Ricci pointed us in the right direction in the Autumn regarding his filly and she didn't disappoint with a very good performance. Unlucky at Leopardstown last time, the Great Pretender filly jumped well and, while she arguably hit the front soon enough, she stayed on well to beat old rival Gala Marceau by two and a quarter lengths. She is a terrific filly with a big future.
Those clients who purchased the Cheltenham Festival Update will be aware Paul Nicholls' comments regarding Stay Away Fay with the champion trainer saying: "He is rated 136 and I view him as a 150 horse one day. He goes for the Albert Bartlett on Friday and, while he lacks experience, there is a lot more to come from him and I think he is worth a bet because he is a huge price." I wish I had taken more notice and tipped him.
Having selected Iroko for the Coral Cup it was frustrating to see the Olly Greenall and Josh Guerriero trainer runner win the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle which rounded off the meeting. The ex-French gelding left it late wearing down the other J.P.McManus runner No Ordinary Joe on the run-in. The five year old will make a lovely staying chaser next season for his upwardly mobile stable who have enjoyed an excellent season with 52 winners.
Overall, it was a disappointing week and I wouldn't have found some of the winners if I had studied till next Christmas. There is no doubt it could have been a lot better with some better decisions but at least Paul Nicholls, Rich Ricci, Anthony Bromley and Declan Phelan steered clients in the right direction. Declan did particularly well with Energumene, Envoi Allen and Impervious.
Finally, William Haggas also did us a favour with Estidama (9/4) winning at Newcastle on Friday evening in the Ahead On The Flat Extra in the Update. William was adamant that the lightly raced four year old was 'well handicapped' off a mark of 78. Plenty of clients emailed afterwards saying they had taken 11/4 on Thursday.
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