Reputation Enhanced in Defeat: Galopin Des Champs Looks Like a Gold Cup Winner

Published 2022/05/19

Reputation Enhanced in Defeat: Galopin Des Champs Looks Like a Gold Cup Winner


Galopin Des Champs: Photo via

There were many impressive performances at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival: Constitution Hill, for example, earned the highest ever Timeform rating for a novice after he destroyed the competition in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; Honeysuckle showed – once again – why she is the best mare of her generation by winning another Champion Hurdle without breaking a sweat; and we can’t forget how Rachael Blackmore guided A Plus Tard to victory in the Gold Cup. However, you can make an argument that the most impressive performance was one that ended in failure. The 2022 Turner Novices’ Chase was billed as a matchup between two heavyweights, Bob Olinger and Galopin Des Champs. Indeed, there was a sense that everyone else was swerving the race, with only four runners lining up for the smallest field of the Festival. Bussleton and El Barra were basically there to make up the numbers.

Bob Olinger had been soundly beaten

As most are aware, what happened next was remarkable. The indefatigable Galopin Des Champs thundered around the course, leaving Bob Olinger miles behind. And then, of course, Galopin Des Champs threw it all away on the final fence, tumbling on landing and throwing jockey Paul Townend from the saddle. That allowed Bob Olinger to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and land a second successive Grade 1 at Cheltenham.

But punters and bookies use the evidence of what’s before the eyes, and they are aware that Galopin Des Champs not only had Bob Olinger beat, but trounced. The fall was a mistake, but it was more like just one of those things that can happen to any horse – like Annie Power in 2015. So, despite the defeat, many bookies were impressed enough to install Galopin Des Champs as ante-post favourite for the 2023 Gold Cup. 888 Sport horse racing odds, for example, has him at 7/2 ahead of 2022 winner, A Plus Tard.

Echoes of Annie Power in 2015

It’s not uncommon for a horse to enhance its reputation in defeat. The aforementioned Annie Power went off as favourite in the 2016 Champion Hurdle, despite falling when leading in the 2015 Mares’ Hurdle. The circumstances were remarkably similar to what happened to Galopin Des Champs. Of course, there are still some questions to answer. Galopin Des Champs remains a novice, and he only has three runs to over fences to his name. So, trainer Willie Mullins will want to have some more experience under his belt before the talk of the Gold Cup gets really serious. There is a possibility we will see him later in April, perhaps in the Fairyhouse Gold Cup or the Punchestown Festival.

And yet, regardless of how Mullins plans out the end of the season for Galopin Des Champs, there is a sense among some that we are looking at a very special horse here. Galopin Des Champs seems to have that x-factor belonging to only a select few horses. Bob Olinger, we should remind you, is himself a superstar novice who is unbeaten over fences. Galopin Des Champs made him seem ordinary for the majority of their contest.

It is, of course, a long road between now and the 2023 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and there will be a few tests, particularly next winter, that will demonstrate whether or not Galopin Des Champs is a worthy favourite. But he is certainly one to keep an eye on at this tail-end of this jumps season and all throughout the next.