Galopin Des Champs and Fastorslow set for rematch

Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs gets the chance to gain revenge for his surprise defeat to Fastorslow at Punchestown in the spring when the two meet in the John Durkan Memorial Chase.

The Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs looked imperious at Cheltenham, proving his stamina over three and a quarter miles when that was the only real question mark.

When winning this corresponding race last season he had Fastorslow well behind him and it was difficult to see when he could be beaten.

However, he suffered a blip in the Punchestown Gold Cup, going down by two and a quarter lengths to Martin Brassil’s new star.

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Galopin Des Champs along with trainer Willie Mullins during his homecoming parade in Leighlinbridge
Galopin Des Champs along with trainer Willie Mullins during his homecoming parade in Leighlinbridge (Niall Carson/PA)

Sent on his way at 4-11 in April, Galopin Des Champs is yet again long odds-on with Fastorslow the only non Mullins-trained runner in the Grade One.

“Galopin Des Champs is in nice order going to Punchestown and I hope he runs a good race,” said the champion trainer.

“Galopin has won this race before – the race is a little earlier this year and the trip might suit some of the opposition more but Galopin comes here with his chance.”

Mullins also runs Stattler, second to Galopin Des Champs in the Irish Gold Cup in February, Blue Lord, Asterion Forlonge and Appreciate It.

Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins added: “Galopin Des Champs won this race last year and while it is two weeks earlier this year that shouldn’t be any problem.

“He was obviously knocked off his perch by Fastorslow at the Punchestown Festival so we have to try to level that up. I think probably coming back in trip will suit our horse more so hopefully that can help turn the tables.”

On the yard’s other runners he added: “Asterion Forlonge was second to Klassical Dream at the Punchestown Festival and was going very well in this race two years ago when he unseated so he is always a contender.

“I ride Appreciate It, who did disappoint us a little last season even though he ran well at the top level. I think he is better than his form and he has to have a squeak.

“Stattler will probably find the trip on the short side and Blue Lord is another Grade One winner who makes this race hugely competitive.”

Jockey J J Slevin with the Punchestown Gold Cup
Jockey J J Slevin with the Punchestown Gold Cup (Brian Lawless/PA)

The man who got the better of Galopin Des Champs in April was J J Slevin on Fastorslow and he reckons his mount could be even better this season, when he turns eight.

“He’s got loads of boot and that is a big asset to him,” Slevin told Punchestown Racecourse.

“That’s what sets the good horses apart, they need to be able to travel and he seems to have that in abundance.

“He’s always coasting along in his comfort zone when other horses might be out on their heads. That was his main attribute, I felt, last year.

“He picked them up the last day comfortably enough, he needed a bit of luck when he got to the front but he did it comfortably I felt.

“I think there’s more to come, he’s been lightly-campaigned all along and he could be hitting his peak this year.”

Fastorslow (right) jumps the last upsides Bravemansgame in April
Fastorslow (right) jumps the last upsides Bravemansgame in April (Brian Lawless/PA)



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Brassil was always looking to start Fastorslow back in this race and said: “The John Durkan Chase back at Punchestown was the obvious place for Fastorslow to start off and we are really looking forward to it.

“It will be different ground and a shorter trip than the Punchestown Gold Cup but we are going there with a nice horse and hoping for a nice run.

“We are obviously facing the might of the Mullins battalion but it is great to have a horse like him and we’d be hoping he is still improving and getting better with age.”

Gordon Elliott may not be represented in the feature race but he has strong interests elsewhere, not least with Imagine in the BetVictor Craddockstown Novice Chase.

A useful hurdler, the way he won on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse suggested he will be taking much higher order over bigger obstacles.

He is owned by Caldwell Construction and their racing manager Joey Logan said: “We’re excited about him and he had a really nice first run in a beginners chase.

“He’s stepping up now at the weekend to a Graded race and we are just hopeful he will be able to progress.”

Mullins runs Uncle Phil while John Ryan’s Lucid Dreams sets a good standard having won twice over fences already.

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