Less than a week since being crowned champion trainer for a twelfth time, Paul Nicholls capped another memorable season by winning the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup courtesy of his dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux. The nine year old, who had sported cheekpieces for the first time when streaking clear in the Bowl at Aintree earlier this month, stayed on too strongly to beat dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo by a length and a half. Given a positive ride by Sam Twiston-Davies, he produced a fine round of jumping and always looked like holding Willie Mullins' runner-up in the homestraight. It was a splendid performance and once again proved that Nicholls is the king when it comes to the top staying chases.
Galopin Des Champs did us a huge favour when winning the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham last month off a mark of 142. Stepping back into Grade 1 company for the second time this term, the ex-French gelding relished the step up to three miles in the staying novice hurdle and outclassed his seven opponents with a blistering performance. Paul Townend's mount jumped slickly throughout (bar the last) and sauntered clear on the home turn. Crossing the line a dozen lengths in front of Gentlemansgame, he looked every inch a future Gold Cup contender in the making. It is hoped the five year old goes over fences next season. It is worth remembering former stablemate Don Poli won the Martin Pipe HH before finishing a close second in the Grade 1 staying novice hurdle at the Punchestown in 2014 - the following campaign, he won the RSA Chase. It would be no surprise to see this exciting Timos gelding do likewise next March. He has been a tremendous horse for the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead and is a short price to be on the front cover of the 2021/22 edition.
Unfortunately, Sir Gerhard was unable to confirm Festival form with stable companion Kilcruit in the Grade 1 bumper at Punchestown. There were no excuses for the former Gordon Elliott trained gelding who was well positioned and had every chance in the homestraight.
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