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Galopin Des Champs wins Gold Cup

Willie Mullins surpassed 100 winners at the Cheltenham Festival as he enjoyed another stellar week at the pinnacle of racing.

As should be the case, the horses were the shining light of the entire week, with some smart performances on the biggest stage of all. Mullins continues to hold a vice-like grip over National Hunt racing and is a brilliant ambassador for the sport.

Day 1:
In the feature race of the opening day, State Man landed his eighth grade 1 success in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, capitalising on the absence of last year’s winner Constitution Hill. Despite not being at his best, it was a workman-like success to hold off Irish Point by a length. Mullins first winner of the week came in the Arkle, when Gaelic Warrior sauntered clear under Paul Townend. In similar fashion, Lossiemouth dazzled in the Mares’ Hurdle, taking the step up in trip in her stride and will be a strong contender for the Champion Hurdle next year.

Slade Steel showed a likeable attitude to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.

Elsewhere on the day, there was local success for trainer Kim Bailey, who won the Ultima Handicap Chase with Chianti Classico. The Grand National could be the next destination, aiming to emulate Lucinda Russell’s, Corach Rambler, who won both races last season.
This was Britain’s only success of the day, as the Irish claimed the final two races, with Lark In The Mornin winning the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle and Corbetts Cross landing the National Hunt Chase.

Day 2:
Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead enjoyed further success to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with Captain Guinness bravely holding off Gentleman De Mee. Blackmore became the first female winning jockey of the race and was at her brilliant best throughout a messy race. 1/5 Favourite, El Fabiolo, made a shuddering jumping error early on and pulled up as a result. Second favourite, Edwardstone, set a strong gallop and fell when beginning to weaken.

Ballyburn produced one of the performances of the week with a sensational display in the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle. Despite a low head carriage and racing slightly keen, he annihilated his rivals, showing gears to quicken away, and plenty of stamina up the hill.
There was a similarly impressive performance from Fact to File, in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, who was smuggled beautifully into the race by Mark Walsh. He has emerged as a Gold Cup contender for 2025.

Dan Skelton enjoyed two handicap successes with Langer Dan defending his crown in the Coral Cup, and Unexpected Party bouncing back to form in the Grand Annual.
Willie Mullins’ 100th winner at the Cheltenham Festival came in the Champion Bumper, with Jasmin De Vaux readily quickening clear under son Patrick.

Day 3:
Teahupoo gained a deserved victory in the Stayers’ Hurdle after finishing third in the contest a year prior, giving Gordon Elliott his first success of the week. In a star-studded field, mixed with youth and experience, he powered up the hill to finish three lengths clear of two-time winner Flooring Porter, with Home By The Lee back in third.

There was another double for the Skelton pairing, this time in the graded races, with Grey’s Dawning winning the Turners Novices’ Chase and Protektorat winning the Ryanair Chase.
The Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle produced a wholesome victory as Jeremy Scott’s Golden Ace, quickened clear of well fancied Irish rivals to round off an excellent day for British trainers.
In the handicaps, Monmiral won the Pertemps Network Final Handicap for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden, Shakem Up’Arry won the Plate for Ben Pauling and Ben Jones, and Inothewayurthinkin appeared well ahead of his mark when winning the Kim Muir, for Gavin Cromwell and Derek O’Connor.

Day 4:
Galopin Des Champs roared to his second Gold Cup success, giving trainer Mullins’ a fourth success in the race. A sensational performance, he finished three lengths clear of Gerri Colombe in second with Corach Rambler back in third.

There was further success for the man from Closutton in the opening two races of the day, as Majborough won the Juvenile Triumph Hurdle and Absurde bagged the County Hurdle.
Gordon Elliott had a double on the day, as outsider Stellar Story won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and Better Days Ahead won the Martin Pipe, providing jockey Danny Gilligan his first festival victory.

In the Hunters’ Chase, John Dawson produced Sine Nomine perfectly to narrowly deny Its on the Line, while Gavin Cromwell took the honours in the Mares’ Chase with Limerick Lace.

Ian Renton, who runs Cheltenham Racecourse as Managing Director of The Jockey Club, said: “Today’s racing epitomised everything that is great about the sport and this renewal of the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup was certainly worthy of the race’s 100th anniversary.
“It has been a fantastic four days, with some superb performances and the remarkable milestone of 100 Cheltenham Festival winners for Willie Mullins.”

Explaining the day’s attendance, Renton continued: “In 2023 we reduced the number of tickets we sold to ensure a capacity of 68,500 on Gold Cup Day. This year we saw a higher number of annual members, owners and trainers present, which resulted in our attendance slightly exceeding this number.”

Friday’s crowd of 69,129, follows 60,181 on Tuesday, 46,771 on Wednesday and 53,918 on Thursday. Renton added: “The Cheltenham Festival remains the pinnacle of Jump racing and a marquee event in the sporting and social calendar, but we and all businesses operating in the leisure and hospitality industry know only too well the huge effect that the ongoing cost of living crisis is having on consumer behaviour.

“Whilst we’ve seen slightly lower numbers in terms of general admission this week, hospitality sales continue to go from strength to strength.

“We want to ensure we are accessible at a variety of price points. Tickets started from £37 when first on sale last March, a price which will be held when 2025 tickets go on sale on Monday.

“We will begin our usual wash-up process for all aspects of The Festival in the coming weeks, including looking at effective solutions to improve our car parking facilities, in order to ensure we continue to provide enjoyable and memorable experiences for our loyal racegoers and those who may be coming racing for the first time.”

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