Willie Mullins is confident Galopin Des Champs is becoming “the complete package” ahead of his bid for glory in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
The most successful trainer in Festival history finally ended his long wait for a first victory in the blue riband with Al Boum Photo in 2019 – a success he repeated 12 months later.
Bar his final fence exit in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase at last year’s Festival, Galopin Des Champs has been foot-perfect over fences so far – winning each of his five starts, including a dominant first chasing success over three miles in last month’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
The seven-year-old will take a step into the unknown over an extended three and a quarter miles in the Cotswolds, but Mullins does not expect him to be beaten for a lack of stamina.
“He did everything right at Leopardstown. I was very happy with what he did and Paul (Townend) was very happy that he jumped and came through when he wanted him to,” said Mullins.
“He felt he had plenty of horse under him passing through the line and that’s important because there’s another two furlongs in Cheltenham.
“When he won over three miles as a novice over hurdles, I was never worried about his stamina after that. It’s just all about temperament that the horse learns to settle during a race and he’s done that in his last two runs.
“Paul is much happier with him and has got confidence now that he can use him in a race when he wants to use him.
“The horse is becoming the complete package.”
Mullins has a second contender in the form of Stattler, a horse who has no stamina questions having won the three-mile-six-furlong National Hunt Chase 12 months ago but who was eight lengths behind Galopin Des Champs when filling the runner-up spot in the Irish Gold Cup.
The trainer’s son Patrick is once again on board Stattler, with stable jockey Paul Townend keen to attend to what he says is “unfinished business” aboard the hot favourite.
“Galopin Des Champs been excellent this year and has really grown up,” he told Ladbrokes.
“I just can’t wait to ride him. Bar the hiccup we had at Cheltenham last year at the last fence, he has been foot-perfect and seems to have learned from that. We have unfinished business here and he is a deserved favourite.
“I think he will stay the trip, but we won’t know until we try. The way he went through the line in the Irish Gold Cup suggests it won’t be a problem.”
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