Galopin Des Champs and Fastorslow ready for Punchestown rematch

Familiar foes Galopin Des Champs and Fastorslow are both reported in fine spirits ahead of the latest chapter in their engaging rivalry in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup.

There were few signs of what was to come when Fastorslow finished 21 lengths behind Galopin Des Champs as a 66-1 outsider in December 2022, but Martin Brassil’s charge bounced back to take a 2-1 lead via victories in this race 12 months ago and last November’s John Durkan at the same venue.

However, Willie Mullins’ superstar asserted his authority again in February’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and then powered to a second straight success in Cheltenham’s blue riband event, when Fastorslow parted company with J J Slevin at the 16th of 22 fences.

The big two dominate the betting once more for this year’s Punchestown Festival day two feature and Mullins, who also saddles longshots Appreciate It and Capodanno, has nothing but respect for the opposition.

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He said: “It’s good for racing to have battles like that. Sean and Bernardine Mulryan (Fastorslow’s owners) are fantastic patrons of the game and it was fantastic to see their horse winning, even though beating mine!

“It’s something to look forward to, going back for the rematch. We’re hoping this year we can beat him in Punchestown, but you never know, it depends how the race pans out and what else is in the race.

“We’re fit and well, they’re fit and well. They love winning in Punchestown and so do we. We’ll both toast each other whichever horse wins, hopefully one of us wins.”

Fastorslow belied odds of 20-1 when claiming this prize last term, but there is no chance of him slipping in under the radar this time and Brassil is confident the Cheltenham mishap “definitely wouldn’t have left a mark”.

The Dunmurray-based handler reported: “We’re very happy with him and looking forward to the challenge again. He has no ill-effects from Cheltenham and it’s been a trouble-free passage to get him where he is now and it’s all systems go.

“I don’t know what it is but he knows the place well anyway. He seems to act really well out there. He’s never been out of the first couple at Punchestown, bar his first run over fences for me.”

Punchestown Winter Festival – Day Two – Sunday 26th November
Jockey J J Slevin celebrates on Fastorslow after winning at Punchestown (PA).

British raiders have a decent record in the Punchestown Gold Cup, with Neptune Collonges the only dual winner of the race in 2007 and 2008, while Planet Of Sound struck in 2010 and Clan Des Obeaux came out on top three years ago.

Corach Rambler travels over from Scotland this year, having followed up his Cheltenham Gold Cup third by coming a cropper early on when trying to bag back-to-back Grand National triumphs at Aintree.

Lucinda Russell said: “He’s schooled since and jumped really well. He just seems really fresh and happy.”

Journey With Me earned a step up in class by staying on strongly to beat Appreciate It by nine lengths for a Grade Two success over just short of two and a half miles at Fairyhouse last time out.

Henry de Bromhead commented: “He was great in Fairyhouse, we were delighted with him and he seems to have come out of that well.



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Fairyhouse Easter Festival 2024 – Monday April 1st
Journey With Me ridden by jockey Darragh O’Keeffe winning at Fairyhouse (Niall Carson/PA).

“He’s a definite Grade Two horse and now we’ll see if he can step up to Grade One.

“We’ve never really got an answer about three miles, so we thought Wednesday is as good as any day to give it a go.”

Wearing blinkers for the first time, Shark Hanlon’s Hewick bids to add another chapter to his fairytale rags-to-riches story with a first run at Punchestown, having added this season’s King George success at Kempton to a notable CV which includes Galway Plate and American Grand National victories.

He had a spin over hurdles at Aintree after being pulled out of the National and is a proven spring performer, having posted impressive Sandown wins at around this time for the past two years.

Gordon Elliott’s former Irish Gold Cup victor Conflated is coming off encouraging placed efforts in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and Aintree’s Melling Chase, while Gentlemansgame was fifth behind Gerri Colombe in the Bowl at Liverpool for Mouse Morris last time out.

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