Fastorslow expected to take step forward in Irish Gold Cup

Martin Brassil is confident there is improvement to come from Fastorslow when he takes Galopin Des Champs on again in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival.

The feature race of next weekend’s two-day meeting at Leopardstown looks set to feature the first two in the betting for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham just over a month later.

The pair have met three times in their careers to date. Galopin Des Champs finished a long way clear in the 2022 John Durkan Chase when Fastorslow was making his Irish debut over fences – but Brassil’s star came out on top at the Punchestown Festival and in this season’s John Durkan.

He does hold an alternative engagement in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, but that will only be needed if the ground comes up very soft – conditions which prevented him taking on Galopin Des Champs at Christmas.

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“We only entered for the two-mile race in case the ground comes up heavy, but the preferred option is the Gold Cup,” said Brassil after watching his stable star on the Curragh gallops on Wednesday.

“I’m very happy with him, he’s in a good place, he was ready to run at Christmas. He’s a very easy horse to watch as he eats well, loves his work and thrives on what he does. It’s a case of maintaining that.

“He was beaten a short head when the ground was terrible at Cheltenham a couple of years ago (Coral Cup) and the ground was soft enough there last year (second in the Ultima). He won the John Durkan on soft, he’s versatile regards ground, we just felt that we didn’t really need to run him on heavy ground (at Christmas) when the (Irish) Gold Cup was another option.

“Galopin Des Champs is a top-class horse, a Gold Cup winner, so he’s always going to be hard enough to crack. Going back over three miles is a plus for him, we haven’t raced against him in those conditions.

“I’d say we could possibly be the main challenger. I’m not saying we’ll beat him every time we meet him, but I’m sure they’ve plenty of respect for my horse as I have for theirs.

“We were only hopeful he’d finish in the first three in the John Durkan, there was plenty of improvement to come from him, so hopefully there will be.”

Fastorslow had Galopin Des Champs (yellow cap) behind when winning the John Durkan
Fastorslow had Galopin Des Champs (yellow cap) behind when winning the John Durkan (PA Wire)

Looking ahead to March, despite two agonising near-misses at the past two Cheltenham Festivals, Brassil can at least take heart from the fact he clearly likes the track.

“He’s been beaten a short head and a neck at Cheltenham and An Epic Song was just touched off in the Coral Cup (last year), I’m sure one will get their head on the right side of it soon,” said Brassil.

“We know he acts around there. The Ultima was only his fourth run over fences, his first handicap and he just came up a bit short, so there was always going to be improvement and thankfully he showed that in Punchestown.

“Because he’d won in France before we got him, some of the conditions of the races we’d liked to have run him in meant we couldn’t, they couldn’t have won a chase before May ’21 and he’d won in September ’19.

“There was no winners-of-one, not one chase on the programme, so we had to pitch him in the deep end, his second and third runs over fences were in Grade Ones.

“Doing that has helped him, he’s not afraid of much, he enjoys what he’s doing and is starting to think he’s special, he’d better keep performing like it!”

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Regarding how the horse’s name came about, Grand National winner Brassil had an amusing tale.

“He was in training with Arnaud Chaille-Chaille in France and he doesn’t speak any English, so the man who acts as his agent rang Sean (Mulryan, owner) one night to say the horse was getting close to a run and needed a name,” explained Brassil.

“Sean asked him fairly sharply ‘is he fast or slow?’ and the agent just said thank you and hung up! I’m glad he’s a bit faster than slower, anyway.

“I never thought I’d have a Gold Cup horse, I always thought it was something everyone else had a horse for, but I probably felt the same before the National.”

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