Tag Archive for: Fastorslow

Fastorslow too strong for Galopin Des Champs in Punchestown repeat

Fastorslow repeated his victory of last year as he once again got the better of Galopin Des Champs in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup.

Martin Brassil’s charge was a shock 20-1 scorer from the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero 12 months ago, but he went off much shorter odds at 7-2 this time, with Galopin Des Champs 1-2 favourite.

Partnered by J J Slevin, Fastorslow travelled particularly well as Conflated set the early gallop and clearly had plenty still to give as the race began in earnest.

Slevin had his mount in pole position with two fences to jump and while Galopin Des Champs tried to challenge on the run to the last, he never really looked like getting on top.

Fastorslow cleared the last in style and galloped home for a one-and-a-quarter-length win over the dual Cheltenham champion, with King George winner Hewick finishing with real purpose to grab third, beaten a further two and a quarter lengths.

Sean and Bernardine Mulryan own Fastorslow and the former said: “It’s Punchestown, our local track, there is nothing better than this! All our friends and family are here, it’s very special.

“To win it last year was a bit of a shock, but to win it two years in a row is something that can probably never be repeated again. We have to enjoy every second.

“In a lifetime you could have a hundred horses and never have a horse like him.

“Martin is an extraordinary man to care for a horse and had him spot on today.”

Brassil has trained plenty of high-class horses in the past and sent out a Grand National winner in Numbersixvalverde back in 2006, but he is certain Fastorslow is the best he has trained.

He said: “He’s turned up in just as good a shape (as last year) and possibly even better.

“J J said he was running away with him for the first mile.

“He’s the best horse that I’ve ever had.”

JJ Slevin and Martin Brassil with the Punchestown Gold Cup
JJ Slevin and Martin Brassil with the Punchestown Gold Cup (Niall Carson.PA)

The winner had unseated Slevin seven fences from home at Cheltenham and the rider was thrilled to gain compensation, with Fastorslow registering a third career win over Galopin Des Champs having also beaten him in the John Durkan here in December.

Slevin said: “He’s an absolute monster!

“He’s some horse and is by far the best horse I’ve ever ridden.

“He was actually keen for the first mile and I was very worried about that. He had a bit of a go at the first down the back and came out of my hands, but he’s an absolute machine.

“It was a long way home (from Cheltenham) but, at the end of the day, it is a horse race and you have to move on. There’s a lot of people in worse situations.”

Fastorslow was too good for Galopin Des Champs
Fastorslow was too good for Galopin Des Champs (Niall Carson/PA)

Willie Mullins, meanwhile, felt the winner had simply been the better horse on the day.

He said: “Fastorslow is always good this time of the year and around this track. J J gave him a very brave ride, he didn’t wait around for our fellow or anything like that – he went out and took the race by the scruff of the neck and it worked for him.

“Our fellow ran a great race and was staying on at the end, so more power to Fastorslow. It’s great for Sean and Bernardine Mulryan and Martin Brassil.

“Paul (Townend) set out to make the running and the race sort of overtook him. There is no point in forcing a horse to make the running and I don’t think he jumped well enough to make the running either.

“I’m happy with what happened and I think the better horse on the day won the race.”

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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.

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.

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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Fastorslow set for Punchestown after Gold Cup exit

Martin Brassil’s Fastorslow is none the worse for his unsupervised trip around Cheltenham and will now take aim at Punchestown.

The eight-year-old started at 8-1 under J J Slevin with some eyecatching form to his name, including a second-placed finish in the Ultima behind subsequent Grand National winner Corach Rambler 12 months ago.

From there he headed to the Punchestown Gold Cup and notably defeated both Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame, the 2023 Gold Cup first and second.

That form held when he returned to action this season as his debut came in the John Durkan at Punchestown, where he beat Galopin Des Champs again as Willie Mullins’ stable star could only come home in third.

The two horses did switch roles next time out, however, with Fastorslow the runner-up in the Irish Gold Cup as Galopin Des Champs returned to winning ways and staked his claim on a Cheltenham repeat.

J J Slevin after winning the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Fastorslow
J J Slevin after winning the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Fastorslow (PA)

As such Galopin Des Champs was a well-justified 10-11 shot on Friday and eventually prevailed by three and a half lengths, whereas Fastorslow met with misfortune at the 16th obstacle and parted ways with Slevin.

Horse and rider were unharmed and Fastorslow’s herd instincts kept him amongst the field right until the end, as he crossed the line in second place without his rider having briefly threatened to interfere with the progress of the winner.

Brassil reports him to show no ill effects for the jaunt and he will now be aimed at a repeat of last season’s Punchestown success.

“He’s fine, he’s come out of it well,” the trainer said,

“The race hadn’t really developed (when he unseated at 16th).

“He’ll go to Punchestown all being well.”

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Brassil confident Fastorslow can mount bold Cheltenham challenge

Martin Brassil is relishing the prospect of running Fastorslow in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, confident his star performer will not let him down on the big occasion.

Brassil’s flag-bearer had got the better of reigning Cheltenham champion Galopin Des Champs in both the Punchestown Gold Cup last April and the John Durkan earlier this season, but suffered defeat at the hands of Willie Mullins’ charge in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last weekend.

Although beaten four and a half lengths, Fastorslow more than played his part in what was a terrific showpiece to the Dublin Racing Festival – and with the race run to suit the defending champion, Brassil was content with the performance of his charge.

Fastorslow (left) taking on Galopin Des Champs (right) in the Irish Gold Cup
Fastorslow (left) taking on Galopin Des Champs (right) in the Irish Gold Cup (Damien Eagers/PA)

He said: “We were very happy with the run and he hadn’t run since November 26, so you have to be very happy with it.”

There was an argument to suggest Fastorslow may have been able to test Galopin Des Champs on the run-in if he had not been distracted by the front-running mount of Paul Townend at the final obstacle.

However, Brassil believes that is immaterial to the outcome of this particular battle.

“We might have got a flyer (at the last, if Galopin Des Champs had not jinked) but my horse was quick to spot what the other horse did and he just hesitated and got over the fence carefully,” explained Brassil.

“He was on the back foot then and Galopin Des Champs had him all the way to the line. However, I don’t think there would have been any different result I would say, he had the run of the race dictating it, so in that race he always had our measure.”

Fastorslow now heads to Prestbury Park as the general 4-1 second favourite for the Gold Cup, as he prepares to tackle the odds-on favourite for a fifth time, with the score currently 2-2, but Brassil is expecting a much deeper event on March 15 at a venue where his charge has performed well in the past.

Fastorslow and team after winning the John Durkan
Fastorslow and team after winning the John Durkan (PA Wire)

“If you headed into a Gold Cup only worrying about one horse, then you wouldn’t be doing too bad, but I’m sure there will be a lot more competition when we get to the race though,” he added.

“He seems to like Cheltenham, which is always a positive. He’s a horse who has never let us down and you can always depend on him to perform at his best. Sometimes that’s good enough and others you come up a bit short. If he continued to do that, there will be no one complaining.

“It’s five weeks today we’re working towards and we’re looking forward to it.”

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Mullins braced for Irish Gold Cup battle

Willie Mullins is anticipating another great race between Galopin Des Champs and the Martin Brassil-trained Fastorslow in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The two have met three times in total, initially in the 2022 John Durkan, when Fastorslow was having his first run over fences in Ireland and he was 21 lengths behind Mullins’ runner.

Fast forward to last April and Galopin Des Champs was the new darling of Irish racing, having won the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, while Fastorslow stepped up to take him on at Punchestown having been beaten a neck by subsequent Grand National winner Corach Rambler in a handicap.

Fastorslow showed he was a much-improved performer there, though, coming out on top at 20-1 – and he proved that was no fluke by beating Galopin Des Champs again in the John Durkan when both made their reappearance this season.

Mullins believes a change in tactics helped Galopin Des Champs return to his best at Christmas, when Fastorslow came out on the morning of the Savills Chase due to the soft ground, and the Closutton handler is hoping for a blockbuster race between them again.

“It’s going to be a hell of a race. I hope it turns out well and that the two of us are coming to the second-last, or indeed even the last – it’s going to be a great race,” said the champion trainer.

“He put two middling performances behind him, we changed tactics on the day and it worked. Hopefully he hasn’t left his season behind him there, but it was a good enough race to win anyhow. Hopefully he can do the same again on Saturday and we can go on to Cheltenham after that.

“We’ve been very lucky in the race but I’ve always targeted the race, whereas some people miss it to go to Cheltenham. It’s the Irish Gold Cup, it’s got great prize money and we must support our own races, that’s my view.

“I remember coming home from the races one day and my wife Jackie asking me if we’d ever have a horse good enough to run in the race, never mind win it. I appreciate whenever we have a horse good enough to run them, I enter them and see what happens.”

Mullins also runs last season’s Irish Grand National winner I Am Maximus but he has over 30 lengths to find with his stablemate from Christmas.

J J Slevin with Fastorslow following the John Durkan
J J Slevin with Fastorslow following the John Durkan (PA Wire)

For Brassil, who won the Grand National at Aintree with Numbersixvalverde in 2006, Fastorslow has catapulted him back into the big time.

“It’s easy to get up in the mornings when you have a horse like him, we have other nice horses as well but he’s the star attraction all right,” he said.

“Any horse that goes to Cheltenham and just comes up on the wrong side of the lollipop has to be a fair horse, he gave the National winner weight and he was a really strong National winner and it’s possible he could be in the Gold Cup too.

“He’s not short of pace, people don’t notice how fast he jumps, he’s very slick over a fence, he makes a bit of ground at every fence and over 16 or 18 fences it all adds up.

“I don’t think he’s underestimated after what he did in the John Durkan, he’s a solid second favourite and if he runs up to what is expected, we’d be happy.”

The field is completed by Gordon Elliott’s Conflated, the 2022 hero here and last season’s Savills Chase winner, who unshipped Sam Ewing when making a tired mistake at the last in that corresponding race over the festive period this term.

Elliott said: “There’s four left in it; Galopin Des Champs, I Am Maximus, Fastorslow and Conflated. Conflated, on ratings, should only be third but he’s in good form and seems to like going left-handed around Leopardstown, so we’re looking forward to running him.

“I was very impressed with Galopin Des Champs the last day, he was awesome and he seemed to relish a bit of soft ground, which he’ll get again. He’s the one we all have to beat but if you’re not in, you can’t win.”

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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.

“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!”

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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Brassil reveals back-up plan for Fastorslow at Leopardstown

Fastorslow will have two options at next month’s Dublin Racing Festival, as Martin Brassil looks to put the finishing touches to his Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.

Having inflicted a shock defeat on Galopin Des Champs in the Punchestown Gold Cup in April, Fastorslow proved there was no fluke about that when again getting the better of last season’s Cheltenham hero in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on his seasonal debut.

The trilogy was expected to take place in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase over the festive period, but Fastorslow was withdrawn on the morning of the race due to the deteriorating ground conditions.

In his absence, Galopin Des Champs got back on the winning trail with a brilliant victory, cementing his status in the eyes of the bookmakers as the one to beat in the blue riband at Prestbury Park in March, while trainer Willie Mullins is considering taking in the Irish Gold Cup before the defence of his Cheltenham crown.

Fastorslow is also in Irish Gold Cup contention, but Brassil will also consider the two-mile-one-furlong Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at the same fixture should testing conditions again prevail.

“The entries closed today for the Dublin Racing Festival, so we’ve entered him up for there,” Brassil told the PA news agency on Wednesday.

“He’s in the Irish Gold Cup and we’ve put him in the shorter race as well, just in case the ground came up heavy, then we might run in the shorter race with it being close to the (Cheltenham) Gold Cup.”

Martin Brassil (left) with Fastorslow
Martin Brassil (left) with Fastorslow (PA)

Brassil has no regrets about sidestepping the Savills Chase, adding: “It was a horrible evening there, I’d had a couple of runners in the Paddy Power Chase the day before and the ground had well opened up.

“We’ve never ran him on it (testing ground) before, we said we had another option (Dublin Racing Festival) and we said we’d take it.”

While admitting to being impressed by the 23-length success of Galopin Des Champs, he is not shying away from taking him on again.

He said: “He was great wasn’t he? He really was. It’s two-nil at the moment anyway.”

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Fastorslow sidesteps Savills Chase due to Leopardstown ground

Fastorslow will miss the Savills Chase at Leopardstown due to the testing ground.

Martin Brassil’s charge was due to clash with fellow staying heavyweights Galopin Des Champs and Gerri Colombe in a blockbuster renewal of the extended three-mile contest.

However, after 11 millimetres of rain in the last 24 hours, the ground at Leopardstown is now described as soft, soft to heavy in places – prompting Brassil to rethink running plans.

Fastorslow would have been meeting Galopin Des Champs for a third successive start, having beaten him in both the Punchestown Gold Cup at the end of last season and in last month’s John Durkan Chase on the pair’s respective seasonal bows.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Envoi Allen has also been taken out due to the ground, while Willie Mullins has declared Janidil a non runner due to a temperature, leaving a reduced field of eight.

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Fastorslow too good for Galopin again in John Durkan

Fastorslow inflicted a second successive shock defeat on Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Galopin Des Champs with a comeback victory in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Martin Brassil’s Fastorslow was a widely unconsidered 20-1 shot when springing a surprise in the Punchestown Gold Cup in April, beating the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs into second and Cheltenham runner-up Bravemansgame into third.

Galopin Des Champs was a 1-2 shot to exact his revenge in a race he won 12 months ago, but Fastorslow proved his spring triumph was no fluke with a rousing success under JJ Slevin.

A field of six runners went to post for the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece, with the hot favourite one of five runners for Mullins along with Appreciate It, Asterion Forlonge, Blue Lord and Stattler.

It was clear from an early stage it might not be totally straightforward for Galopin Des Champs, with Paul Townend’s mount sticky over one or two of his obstacles while his stablemate Appreciate It got into a lovely jumping rhythm out in front.

To his credit Galopin Des Champs stuck to his guns to remain in the fight turning for home, but he was unable to get on terms with Appreciate It, while Fastorslow was delivered with his challenge late on the far side of the track.

Slevin dropped his whip halfway up the run-in, but it made no difference to the result as his mount found plenty for pressure to deny Appreciate It by half a length, with Galopin Des Champs a further length and a quarter behind in third.

Coral reacted to the result by cutting Fastorslow’s Cheltenham Gold Cup odds to 6-1 from 14-1, while easing Galopin Des Champs to 3-1 from 6-4 for the blue riband.

Brassil said: “We would have been delighted if he was in the first three. It was a tactical, steadily run race and he (Slevin) never gave him too much to do and it worked out well.

“He went the shortest way round and jumped really well. He was nearly travelling too well for the first mile of the race, he was in his hands a bit.

“He’s just a very good horse and there is a lot to look forward to with him. He needed to back up that Punchestown run (in April). People might have thought we were mad taking on very good horses in the spring and he’s done the same today.

“This is very sweet. I knew John (Durkan) very well and this is the 25th anniversary of this race.

“He’s a horse that takes his racing well and there is four and a half weeks until the Savills Chase (at Leopardstown). The horse will tell us.”

Appreciate It ran a fine race in defeat
Appreciate It ran a fine race in defeat (Gary Carson/PA)

Patrick Mullins, rider of the runner-up Appreciate It, felt his mount may well have emerged victorious had he jumped straighter.

He said: “He ran a cracker but just jumps a little left and that let the winner up our inside after the last fence.

“He’s enjoyed himself and jumped brilliant, but jumping that little bit left has probably cost him the race.”

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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.

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)

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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Fastorslow set for Durkan rematch with Galopin Des Champs

The John Durkan Memorial Chase is shaping up to be a race to savour with Martin Brassil adding Punchestown Gold Cup winner Fastorslow to the list of names that could reappear in the all-star contest.

Willie Mullins has already stated his intention to start Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs in the race he claimed in emphatic style 12 months ago, but lying in wait will be the only horse to lower his colours during a fine 2022-23 campaign.

Fastorslow had both the Closutton star and Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame behind him when striking at Grade One level for the first time in the spring and it is fitting that the seven-year-old – who is as short as 8-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March – returns to the scene of his finest hour for his reappearance.

“He’s about four weeks (away) and we hope to run him on November 26 at Punchestown,” said Brassil.

“He’s done very well (over the summer), he’s good and healthy and well and all seems good with him. It’s nice to have a horse of his calibre.”

On the prospect of meeting Galopin Des Champs again, he added: “I would say the second and third had a hard race at Cheltenham and they are going to be fresher horses starting the season out again.”

Fastorslow was beaten a neck by Grand National hero Corach Rambler at the Cheltenham Festival earlier in the year but is likely to have Gold Cup aspirations when he returns to Prestbury Park next March.

Fastorslow en route to Punchestown Gold Cup glory
Fastorslow en route to Punchestown Gold Cup glory (Brian Lawless/PA)

His route to the blue riband is still to be inked in, but Leopardstown’s Savills Chase at Christmas appears the next stepping stone following his Punchestown comeback.

Brassil continued: “It would probably be on to Leopardstown at Christmas and then we will decide after that if he’s going to have another run before Cheltenham. You will have an idea of where you are going then.

“We hope he has a big year ahead of him, if he can maintain what he did there (in the Punchestown Gold Cup) or even progress from it, then he’s going to be running in those type of races.”

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Longhouse Poet booked for National prep at Down Royal

Martin Brassil will send Longhouse Poet to Down Royal next Friday for his Grand National prep run.

The nine-year-old was a well-supported sixth behind Noble Yeats in the Aintree marathon last year and is currently a general 16-1 chance for the four-and-a-quarter-mile spectacular on April 15.

He reverted to hurdles on his first three runs this season, including when scoring at Limerick on Boxing Day.

However, he unseated JJ Slevin at the first on his return to fences in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last month.

Brassil, who enoyed Grand National success with Numbersixvalverde in 2006, said: “He will probably run in a three-and-three-quarter-mile chase at Down Royal on St Patrick’s Day. That will be his last run before Aintree. I’ve been happy with him.

“I’m reasonably happy with his National weight at 154. As long as the weights don’t go up, he has a grand racing weight.

“He ran a nice race last year, but probably over-raced a bit. He probably got a bit exuberant. You have to remember it is a long way round there twice.”

Fastorslow (right) was touched off by Commander Of Fleet in the Coral Cup last year
Fastorslow (right) was touched off by Commander Of Fleet in the Coral Cup last year (David Davies/PA)

The Kildare handler is still no nearer to deciding which race Fastorslow, who is similarly owned by Sean and Bernardine Mulryan, will contest at Cheltenham next week.

The seven-year-old, who was runner-up in the Coral Cup at the Festival last March, holds entries in both the Ultima Handicap Chase on Tuesday and the Magners Plate Handicap Chase on Thursday.

Fastorslow has run just twice over fences in Ireland, both coming in Grade One company this season.

He finished fifth of six to Galopin Des Champs in the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown and last of five to Gentlemen De Mee in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown.

Brassil lamented the lack of options for Fastorslow, who won his only other chase outing when scoring for Arnaud Chaille-Chaille at Auteuil in September 2019.

“The conditions of a lot of the races over here excluded him from having a run, because he won in 2019 and the conditions said you couldn’t have won before May 2021, and that is why I had to run him in a couple of Grade Ones,” he said.

“They have given him plenty of weight, too, especially for a horse who hasn’t won a hurdle race since he was three.

“He won a chase when he was three – now he’s seven and rated 150 over fences and 147 over hurdles.

“At the moment we will go to the Ultima, but we will confirm him for the Plate as well. The weights have already gone up 4lb in the Ultima, but we’ll wait and see.”

He added: “He is hugely inexperienced, even though he does jump very well and we wouldn’t have any worries about that. At the same time, it is a big ask. If he has a bit of class, it will have to come out.”

Jockey Niall Madden (left) and Martin Brassil with 2006 Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde
Jockey Niall Madden (left) and Martin Brassil with 2006 Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde (Niall Carson/PA)

Brassil will run An Epic Song in either the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle next week, although he would welcome slower conditions for the six-year-old.

“He would be very much ground dependent,” Brassil added. “He would want a real nasty turn of weather.

“I confirmed him for the Coral Cup. If he doesn’t make the cut there, he’ll go in the Martin Pipe.

“He’d want a lot of rain and about a foot of snow to melt, like at the old-fashioned Cheltenham – the Desert Orchid days or days of The Thinker.”

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