Super Sunday: Galopin Des Champs and Energumene ready to return

Tue 6 Dec 2022
 Galopin Des Champs is primed to return at Punchestown on Sunday
Galopin Des Champs is primed to return at Punchestown on Sunday

Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs is the star name among eight horses confirmed for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday.

The Grade One-winning hurdler was brilliant in winning three times over fences last season and would have been four from four had he not crashed out at the final fence in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase at the Festival in March.

He is a best priced 11-4 to provide trainer Willie Mullins with a third Gold Cup success following the back-to-back wins of Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020 and will be a short price to enhance those claims in a race the champion trainer has won eight times, including in each of the past four years.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “This has been a lucky race for us in the past.

“This looks an ideal starting point for Galopin Des Champs and we’ve been very happy with him at home. Hopefully he can continue where he left off last year.”

Galopin Des Champs is one of three remaining Mullins-trained contenders along with last season’s National Hunt Chase victor Stattler and Haut En Couleurs, who also has the option of carrying top-weight in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

“The race is probably a little bit on the short side for Stattler, but options are limited and it will be a nice place to get his season up and running and work forward from there,” Mullins added.

“Haut En Couleurs is obviously a good bit wrong at the ratings, but we will take a closer look at the race in the coming days and we’ll see if he runs or not.”

Gordon Elliott could call upon one or both of Conflated and Fury Road. Conflated won last season’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown and will be expected to improve from his comeback third in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal, the same day as Fury Road won a Grade Two prize.

Joseph O’Brien looks set to saddle four-time Grade One winner Fakir D’oudairies – last seen finishing fifth behind the brilliant Allaho in April’s Punchestown Gold Cup

“I’m very pleased with how he has trained this year. He’s taken a little bit longer to get fit than maybe he did last year. He’s a year older so that’s fine,” said O’Brien.

“It looks like it’s going to be a very hot race, it’ll be exciting to be involved in a race like what the John Durkan is going to be this year.

“He’s been a fantastic horse for us, he’s won a number of Grade Ones and been placed and run very well in a number of them. He’s a star of the yard and hopefully he’s not finished yet.”

Mouse Morris could be represented by Paddy Power Gold Cup runner-up French Dynamite, while Vanillier from Gavin Cromwell’s yard completes the acceptors.

Energumene on course for Cork comeback

Betway Champion Chase winner Energumene is primed for a return to Cork on Sunday as he bids to defend his Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase title.

The brilliant two-miler, owned by Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom, won the €100,000 race on his first start last season and Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father Willie, is hoping it will be a straightforward return.

Mullins said: “It was obviously a perfect starting point for him last year and hopefully it can be the same again this year.

Watch how Energumene won the Champion Chase last season

“We’ve been very happy with him at home, and it will be great if he could go down and put in a similar performance in Mallow as he did last year.”

Energumene is best a priced 6-4 to repeat his Champion Chase success, with Arkle Trophy winner and last Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek hero Edwardstone a general 3-1 chance.

The Grade Two contest has attracted a field of seven, with Henry De Bromhead entering both recent Fortria Chase winner Captain Guinness and stablemate Epson Du Houx.

Four-time Grade One winner Master McShee, winner of the Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick on Boxing Day last year, goes into open company for the first time, having signed off last term with a runner-up effort to Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs at Fairyhouse.

His trainer Paddy Corkery insists he may need the run after 238 days off.

“I’ve had a good few setbacks with him,” Corkery said. “I was (good) to go a couple of weeks back, but just didn’t make it so, obviously, I was going to leave it until he was right and not rush him.

“He’s working away well now but the only thing is, coming out of my place, he’ll probably want the run.

“I just wouldn’t have the yardstick here to measure him against. He’ll have his final bit of work on Thursday and we’ll make the final decision then, but the plan is to be in Cork on Sunday, all being well.”

He added: “You have a strong line-up again but when you look back on his form, that’s where Master McShee deserves to be.

“He won a Grade One last season and was second in two (other) Grade Ones. Willie Mullins says Galopin De Champs is a Gold Cup horse and the closest horse to him last year was Master McShee.

“He’s versatile as regards distance too and two miles on soft ground would be lovely if we get that at Cork.”

Coral Cup runner-up Fastorslow could have just his second start over fences, while Born By The Sea and Global Equity are also entered.

The Gordon Elliott-trained duo of Cool Survivor and Favori De Champdou head 11 entries for the Grade Three Singletons Supervalu Stayers Novice Hurdle.

John McConnell’s course-and-distance winner Grand Soir is a fascinating inclusion in the three-miler, while Henry de Bromhead has entered Hiddenvalley Lake, a cosy winner at Naas on her hurdling bow.

The Grade Two O’Flynn Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase, won in the past by the high-class Concertista, Vroum Vroum Mag, Listen Dear and Shattered Love, has attracted six entries.

This year’s renewal could see the recent course-and-distance winner Dinoblue take on the fellow JP McManus-owned mare Roseys Hollow, while Colm Murphy’s current stable star Impervious is also in the mix.

Paddy Power bet: 2-7 Energumene, 100-30 Captain Guinness, 7 Master McShee, 10 Epson Du Houx, 25 Factorslow, 33 Born By The Sea, Global Equity

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