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‘Galopin’ can land famous double en route to greatness

Willie Mullins’ Gold Cup winner can repel Bravemansgame once more, while young gun Gleeson is set to shine again

Jockey Paul Townend celebrates on Galopin Des Champs after winning the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase at Prestbury Park last month. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

The marquee contest of the week deserves some marquee names, and today’s Grade One Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup (5.55) certainly doesn’t disappoint as Galopin Des Champs bids for a famous double at the Kildare track.

It sees a rematch of the first two home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Galopin Des Champs, which prevailed by seven lengths after a powerful finish up the hill, and Bravemansgame colliding once again in the €300,000 showpiece.

Galopin Des Champs was a brilliant blue riband winner under an inspired steer from Paul Townend, and he bids to scale some rare air should he complete the Cheltenham/Punchestown Gold Cup brace.

Sizing John was the last to do so in 2017 and Galopin Des Champs – which has just one blip on his chasing record when falling at Cheltenham last year with the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at his mercy – will take all the beating again under Townend.

There were many things that went wrong at the Cotswolds with his jumping a tad sketchy at times, but Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old still got the job done in scintillating style.

He just oozes class and has 8lbs over his nearest rival on official ratings, but there has been no shortage of drama in this event with Ruby Walsh famously retiring after winning the 2019 edition aboard Kemboy, while Paul Nicholls will be bidding to spoil the party once again with UK raider Bravemansgame.

​Nicholls, who won this two years ago with the recently retired Clan Des Obeaux, was unable to run the King George winner at Aintree due to ownership issues, but the eight-year-old comes here in fine fettle.

His Cheltenham effort silenced plenty who doubted his ability at the highest level and Harry Cobden’s mount makes plenty of appeal at odds of 5/1, with his conqueror last time out trading as low as 3/10 favourite.

The presence of Henry de Bromhead’s Ryanair Chase winner Envoi Allen, which looked rejuvenated on his last start when defeating Shishkin, adds further intrigue, with Rachael Blackmore’s mount a tasty prospect if building on that display.

Hewick, a real people’s favourite, was also running a belter for trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon before coming to grief at the second last in the Gold Cup and victory for Jordan Gainford’s mount would be a fairytale story.

Galopin Des Champs is something special, though, and he can thwart Bravemansgamecan en route to a well-deserved summer break. Realistically, he is not a betting prospect for average punters, so just sit back and enjoy equine greatness.

The all-conquering Mullins has taken five of the last seven renewals of the Grade One Novice Hurdle (5.20) and he holds obvious claims once again in the shape of Gaelic Warrior, which steps up to three miles for the first time.

Stamina didn’t look an issue when Townend’s mount lost nothing in defeat behind brilliant stablemate Impaire Et Passe over 2m5f in the Ballymore at Cheltenham, but the five-year-old is trading woefully short in the betting for a horse with his quirks.

Going right-handed should suit and he may well prevail, but Affordale Fury is the more sensible selection at around six times his odds. Noel Meade’s charge was beaten just a length when running a career-best in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.

Affordale Fury is proven at this trip and can provide a red-letter day for Downpatrick-born rider Danny McMenamin in a contest which also features Gordon Elliott’s Pertemps runner-up Salvador Ziggy.

The Grade One Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion Bumper (6.30) sees another horse eyeing a unique double with A Dream To Share one of the most memorable winners at Cheltenham this year.

John Kiely is a legendary trainer, but he had to wait until hitting 85 for his first Festival winner, provided to him by emerging 18-year-old jockey John Gleeson, son of RTÉ racing pundit Brian Gleeson, who bred the horse along with his wife Claire.

Gleeson, a Leaving Certificate student in St Augustine’s College in Dungarvan, will have to bunk another day off school to take the mount on the five-year-old, but he will take all the beating once again.

Now owned by JP McManus, A Dream To Share is unbeaten in his four career starts and continues to go from strength to strength, with his nearest rival likely to once again be a runner trained by Mullins, who saddles a quartet of challengers.

Tullyhill is the standout, and the choice of the trainer’s son Patrick, having scored impressively at Gowran Park last month, but A Dream To Share may not be for catching.

Elsewhere, Peter Fahey has landed the last two renewals of the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Hurdle Series Final (4.15), so Rocco Bay is respected, but Sandor Clegane may edge out Elliott’s Three Card Brag.

Trained by Paul Nolan, Sandor Clegane had superiority over that rival in the Albert Bartlett and Seán O’Keeffe’s mount has the edge.


3.40 Level Neverending

4.15 Sandor Clegane

4.45 Grangeclare West

5.20 Affordale Fury

5.55 Galopin Des Champs

6.30 A Dream To Share

7.05 Gallant John Joe (e/w)

7.45 Bold Reflection

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