Bob Olinger was handed victory in the Turners Novices’ Chase after Galopin Des Champs took a dramatic fall at the final fence in the opener at Cheltenham.
Galopin Des Champs looked certain to land the spoils when he jumped the last well clear of Bob Olinger, but he slipped and knuckled over a stride after landing and ditched Paul Townend onto the ground.
That left Bob Olinger (6-5) to come home unchallenged with Busselton picking up the pieces for second place in the four-runner Grade One heat, 40 lengths behind the winner.
Until that untimely exit everything had gone to plan for Galopin Des Champs. Willie Mullins’ six-year-old had jumped exuberantly in the early stages and had Bob Olinger under pressure before the race was turned on its head and the 5-6 favourite crashed out after seemingly clearing the last safely.
Bob Olinger’s rider Rachael Blackmore felt her mount was some way from his brilliant best, even though he added another Festival victory after winning last year’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
She said: “It’s fantastic to win but nobody likes winning in those circumstances and it was brilliant to see Paul and Galopin Des Champs get up.
“I was happy with him, he made one or two little errors, so there’s definitely room for improvement there, but four out I wasn’t delighted and I thought I’d be travelling better.
“I don’t know if it was the true Bob Olinger today, even coming up the hill it wasn’t the fashion of last year and I was never going to catch Paul.
“It’s strange emotions but unbelievable to get another winner here.
“I think he’s a Gold Cup horse, he’s one of the best in Henry’s yard so I wouldn’t be too disheartened today as I know that wasn’t the true Bob, for whatever reason I don’t know, but we’re lucky to have him.
“The ground might have blunted him but it’s just soft, jumping ground so I wouldn’t use that as an excuse as he’s won on heavy the last day.”
De Bromhead said: “You never want to win in those circumstances,but this game – always expect the unexpected and we’re delighted to win and we need to show a bit of joy as well.
“I was surprised to see him off the bridle so soon, obviously the other one is something else. I never thought I’d see another horse do that to him.
“He made a couple of mistakes so we still have to work on the jumping, but he jumped well on the first circuit.
“He’s still a work in progress, it was still only his third run over fences and he’s won a Grade Three and a Grade One.
“You don’t like to win a race like that, though.”
Mullins reported Galopin Des Champs to be unscathed after his fall and is optimistic about what the future now holds.
He said: “He’s fine. The reins just got caught around his leg and he panicked a little bit and it took a while to get it all sorted. I think Paul is probably sorer than the horse is.
“Paul just said he landed well and slipped on his next stride. We move on.
“I’m very pleased with the performance and I suppose we’re getting used to horses falling at the last around here – first of all Adamant Approach and then Annie Power and Benie Des Dieux.
“It’s disappointing, but we have a sound jockey and a sound horse and we live to fight another day – and I’m sure we’ve been on the other end of the scale as well.
“It’s tough, but it looks like we could have a very special on horse on our hands.
“I’m delighted I ran him in that race because I can go back to two miles now – we can do anything we want with him.
“It has always been in the back of my mind that we could go back in trip with him.”