A year on from his dramatic descend when he looked certain to win the Turners Novices’ Chase, Galopin Des Champs delivered on the biggest stage under Paul Townend, who like Mullins now has three Gold Cup winners in five years.
It was a patient ride, with the pre-race favourite not moving to the front until they took the last, but he powered away from Bravesmangame to win by five lengths. Conflated came home in third, ahead of Noble Yeats who will now study to defend his Grant National crown next month.
A Plus Tard, last year’s Gold Cup winner, was pulled up by Rachael Blackmore. after being badly hampered when Ahoy Senor fell.
“It wasn’t clean sailing that is for sure,” Townend told ITV. “Everywhere I went I was running into distress. A proper, proper horse because he ran three different races and still won a Gold Cup.
“I was delighted to see it all going on in front of me. It gave me a chance to fill him up after making up a lot of ground. This race is just different. It brings winning to a different level.”
There were two late jockey changes ahead of the race, with imprint Walsh stood down after a nasty descend on Corbetts Cross in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. He was replaced on Minella Indo by Nico de Boinville, while Sam Ewing rode Conflated instead of Davy Russell.
Minella Indo quickly fell off the pace and was pulled up along with Stattler, as A Plus Tard and Galopin Des Champ patiently held their places at the back of the field.
A Plus Tard increasingly struggled though and was unable to recover when caught up as Ahoy Senor, who had led the way for much of the race, fell and brought down Sounds Russian.
Galopin Des Champ stayed out of distress and it became a head-to-head with Bravesmangame, one that the Mullins horse never looked like losing once a clean jump at the last banished any fears of a repeat of previous disaster.
“We assign ourselves under pressure by saying he had enough stamina to win a Gold Cup, he had enough class to win a Gold Cup,” Mullins said.
“Through the race you are wondering if he is too far back but I had asked Paul to settle him. He had the fastest horse and just needed to ride him home and that is what he has done. Paul is so apt under pressure and I gain assign him under pressure this week!
“We won the Gold Cup this year, you’d like to consider we arrive back next year as favourite and win it but you need a lot of luck. I am just delighted he did what he did.”