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Galopin Des Champs will try to justify the hype when he faces 12 rivals in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Willie Mullins’ emerging star has looked a monster over fences and took his form to new heights when landing the Irish equivalent at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, but this will be his toughest test to date.
A Plus Tard is out to defend the title he won in fine style when showing an electric turn of foot last year, while 2021 winner Minella Indo is bidding to regain the crown after finishing second 12 months ago.
The principal players also include Grand National winner Noble Yeats, who has looked a natural when stepping up to Graded company this season, and King George hero Bravemansgame.
Ahoy Senor, Conflated, Stattler and Protektorat can also be found towards the upper echelons of Paddy Power’s Gold Cup betting market. Eldorado Allen, Hewick, Royale Pagaille and Sounds Russian complete the field for Friday’s feature race at 15:30.
Gold Cup odds can be found on the Paddy Power website, Paddy Power app or via our snazzy betting widgets, otherwise Timeform’s horse-by-horse guide to the runners and betting tips from the racing boffins are below.
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Gold Cup tips
Timeform: GALOPIN DES CHAMPS would be unbeaten over fences but for falling at last year’s Festival. The way he forged clear in the Irish Gold Cup suggests the slightly longer trip this afternoon should be within range and he’s very much the one to beat. Bravemansgame is another who has suffered only one defeat over fences and is feared most after his impressive King George success. Last year’s National Hunt Chase winner Stattler will relish the return to a longer trip and looks best of the rest.
Gold Cup runners
Trainer: Lucinda Russell Jockey: Derek Fox Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Initially found the transition from top novice to contender at the highest level a bit of a struggle, but he pieced it all together with a defeat of Sounds Russian, Noble Yeats and Protektorat in the Cotswold Chase here in January. More needed now but his yard is in flying form.
A Plus Tard
Trainer: Henry de Bromhead Jockey: Rachael Blackmore Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbs
One of the best Gold Cup winners of recent years when beating stable-companion Minella Indo by 15 lengths 12 months ago. Pulled up in Betfair at Haydock in November on his only outing since. Clearly hard to be confident but a threat to all if back on song.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Disappointed in Aintree Grade 1 novice on final start last season but that’s his only defeat in 7 outings over fences, taking his form to another level in King George at Kempton in December, well in control when left clear at last. Saved for this since. Big player.
Trainer: Gordon Elliott Jockey: Davy Russell Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Top-class chaser who has been kept fresh for this since readily landing the Grade 1 Savills at Leopardstown over Christmas. That wasn’t the strongest of Grade 1s, though, and he’ll need a bigger performance here. Not a certain stayer, either.
Trainer: Joe Tizzard Jockey: Brendan Powell Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Very smart but his limitations have been exposed at the highest level. Did too much too soon under a change of tactics when fading into a below-form fifth in Denman Chase at Newbury last month. Big outsider.
Galopin Des Champs
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey: P. Townend Age: 7 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Would be unbeaten over fences but for coming down at last when clear in the Turners at this meeting 12 months ago. Proved himself at 3m with an 8-length defeat of Stattler in Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month. Another 2f further to travel now but he’ll be hard to beat if his stamina holds.
Trainer: John Joseph Hanlon Jockey: Jordan Colin Gainford Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Has got better and better over fences, ending last season with win in bet365 Gold Cup and adding Galway Plate in July. Landed another significant victory when taking Grand National Hurdle in America in October. Couldn’t have found a much tougher task for first venture into Graded company, though.
Trainer: Henry de Bromhead Jockey: M. P. Walsh Age: 10 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Won this in 2021 and chased home stablemate A Plus Tard 12 months ago. Only scrambled home in receipt of 8 lb from Stattler in Tramore Grade 3 on his reappearance on New Year’s Day but his very good Festival record (2 wins and 2 seconds from 4 runs) means it would no shock if he goes well.
Trainer: Emmet Mullins Jockey: Sean Bowen Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Last season’s Grand National winner and has progressed again over conventional fences this time round, winning Wexford listed and Aintree Grade 2 before third to Ahoy Senor (Sounds Russian second) in Cotswold here. Cheekpieces back on for the first time since Aintree. Each-way claims.
Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Expertly trained to gain a second Grade 1 success of his career in Betfair Chase on return at Haydock in November. Not at best when fourth of 6 to Ahoy Senor in Cotswold here in January but no surprise were he to bounce back and record another good run in this (third last year).
Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbs
High-class chaser who was a creditable 14 lengths second to Bravemansgame in King George on his reappearance but he’s finished sixth and fifth in the last 2 runnings of this race and it’s likely he’ll find at least a few too strong again.
Trainer: Ruth Jefferson Jockey: Sean Quinlan Age: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs
Hasn’t looked back since sent over fences, gaining a fourth success in Kelso handicap on reappearance. Better form in defeat since, notably 1½ lengths second to Ahoy Senor (Noble Yeats third, Protektorat fourth) in Cotswold Chase at this course (25f, good to soft) last time. Vulnerable here, though.
Trainer: W. P. Mullins Jockey:Mr P W MullinsAge: 8 Weight: 11st 10lbs
National Hunt Chase winner at this meeting last year and has improved again in defeat this time round, only narrowly failing to concede 8 lb to Minella Indo on his reappearance before chasing home stablemate Galopin Des Champs in Irish Gold Cup. Slightly longer trip now will play to his strengths.
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