Galopin Des Champs heading Punchestown ‘A-team’ for Mullins

By Sports Desk April 17, 2024

Galopin Des Champs will try to right his only ‘wrong’ of last year when he lines up in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup later this month.

The dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner was sent off the 4-11 favourite to complete a spring festival double in the three-mile Grade One 12 months ago, but after mastering British raider Bravemansgame, Galopin Des Champs was swamped by the late flourish of 20-1 shot Fastorslow.

Willie Mullins’ charge heads to Punchestown fresh from his second Cheltenham triumph for his fifth start of the season, with stablemate and Champion Hurdle scorer State Man also on course to chalk up his fifth outing this term in the Boodles Champion Hurdle.

The trainer said: “It’s going to be tough for him (Galopin Des Champs). He got beaten there last year, but I think the two, the Paul Nicholls horse and himself, went at it very early and the other horse came and robbed them. Paul (Townend) might just use different tactics and the horse seems good.

“Galopin Des Champs turns up every day and runs a race and has had many runs this season. I’ve seen horses that are hardy, willing and turn up end up being very good horses because the good ones sometimes get injured and are not able to turn up every day – we’ve seen that this year with one horse in particular.

“State Man turns up every day and wins all those Grade Ones and if you’re the owner, trainer or jockey, they’re the ones you want to be on – good, hardy, sound horses.”

With State Man going for the Champion Hurdle, that leaves Lossiemouth to target the Coolmore N.H. Sires Bolshoi Ballet Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle.

The five-year-old added to her Triumph victory of last season when landing the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham with Mullins happy to wait until next term before tackling the open events.

He said: “Lossiemouth will go for the mares’ race, at this point in time anyhow. We’ll let State Man go for the Champion Hurdle.

“I was absolutely delighted with Lossiemouth in Cheltenham and it looks like she’s coming on-song in her bid for the Champion Hurdle next year.

“All those horses have to stay sound, it’s lovely thinking you have two or three for the Champion Hurdle and maybe Constitution Hill will be coming back, but they’ve all got to get there and as we’ve seen they don’t. It’s not a given that you get there.

“When you look at Lossiemouth on the track you think she’s a little grey mare, but when you stand into her you get a fright. It’s always a good sign when you look at a horse and think they’re a normal size but then when you stand in they’re much bigger, it just shows how well proportioned they are.”

Ballyburn routed his Cheltenham rivals in the two-mile-five-furlong Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle and has two options at Punchestown, in the two-mile KPMG Champion Novice Hurdle and the longer Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle.

Mullins said: “He impressed me hugely in Cheltenham – everyone was raving about him after his couple of wins in Ireland and I thought he was a good novice, but I thought he was way more than that when I saw the way he went up the hill at Cheltenham. He can go any trip so we will leave that until later on, we’ll see how the races pan out.

“Ballyburn looks a really good horse – what he did, I would be comparing him to Faugheen or Vautour, that was the sort of performance he put in for me at Cheltenham. A really top-end performance.”

Tullyhill has the same options as Ballyburn as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing run when sent off favourite for the Supreme.

Mullins added: “I imagine Tullyhill will go, he’s a winner round Punchestown and he was in some form on the gallop this morning.

“He was very disappointing (at Cheltenham), Paul said he went out like a light. We didn’t find anything wrong with him but he just wasn’t up to scratch on the day.”

Both Triumph Hurdle winner Majborough and Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase hero Fact To File have signed off for the campaign, but Mullins could field fellow JP McManus runner and impressive Aintree scorer Mystical Power at Punchestown.

Another Liverpool victor, Il Etait Temps, is also pencilled in for a quick return to action in Barberstown Castle Novice Chase having triumphed by nine lengths in the Manifesto.

Mullins said: “I thought in Aintree he settled well and jumped well and he’s becoming more the finished article.

“I just thought when I saw him walking round the parade ring, I’ve never seen a horse move so well. The way he was striding out at a walk, covering so much ground, he impressed me before the race. The break he got after Cheltenham, he just relaxed.

“He obviously performed well twice in Leopardstown and then now in Aintree, so maybe just a flatter surface does do it for him and maybe a little better ground as well, though it was soft enough in Aintree.”

Jasmin De Vaux was a landmark 100th Cheltenham Festival winner when claiming the Champion Bumper and he is in the Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race, while Kargese could have another bite of the Grade One cherry in the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle after finishing second at Cheltenham and Aintree.


“He is good and has put on a nice bit of condition since he came back. I’m very happy with the way the whole string has put on condition, I was looking at them this morning and looking at the coats they have on them and the flesh they’ve put on since Cheltenham, I was really pleased,” said Mullins.

“Kargese has some engine, she pulls so hard. We’re going to have to change a few things about her as if we can get her to settle in a race, she is a real machine I’d say.

“I’d say she’s big enough to go chasing and sometimes those horses settle better over fences.”

Mullins is currently leading the British trainers’ title with the Irish equivalent already in the bag and he admits the prospect of completing that double has made him think twice on Punchestown plans.

He said: “It was amazing coming home from Aintree, the amount of texts and calls I got from my owners to say ‘if you want to bring my horse to Ayr, Perth or wherever do that’. They’re really behind it, they’re part of the team and want to be part of it if it’s going to happen.

“It’s sort of thrown a bit of a spanner in the works for our team, but we still have an A-team to bring to to bring to Punchestown anyway.”

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