Willie Mullins confident trip not a problem for Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs

State Man tops betting lists for likely clash with Honeysuckle in Irish Champion Hurdle

Willie Mullins is confident the three-mile trip won’t be any problem to Galopin Des Champs in Saturday’s Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

The hugely exciting seven-year-old has never run the distance in his handful of starts to date over fences.

Despite that he is a clear favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, a race for which his stamina credentials are set to be put to the test this weekend.

Galopin Des Champs will be the headline act for day one of the Dublin Racing Festival in Saturday’s €250,000 highlight.


His only blip to date over fences was a dramatic final fence spill at last year’s Cheltenham festival but he returned to action in style last month with a Durkan victory at Punchestown.

“He handled Leopardstown very well last year so that’s why I don’t have much trouble going back there,” Mullins reported on Monday.

“He’s a big horse but the way he does things in his races, he does things so easy, except for his little blip in Cheltenham last year where he slipped on landing.

“He’s never been over this trip over fences, but he has over hurdles. I was never really worried about his stamina, although he always showed a nice turn of foot.

“We’ll find out anyhow, but he shouldn’t have any problem with it [the trip],” he added.

Galopin Des Champs’ struck Grade One glory at three miles over hurdles when successful at the 2021 Punchestown festival.

He won his first two starts over fences at Leopardstown last season, including when beating Master McShee at Grade One level in the Dublin Racing Festival.

Mullins holds a record 11 victories in the Irish Gold Cup, formerly known as the Hennessy.

He saddled seven winners in all at the 2022 ‘DRF’ including a remarkable six at Grade One level.

Mullins’s State Man tops the betting for Sunday’s featured Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle, where Honeysuckle will try to regain the winning thread.

The mare, who is chasing a fourth success in the race, finally lost her unbeaten record last time when third in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse.

Successful as a 1-5 favourite last year, this time Honeysuckle splits the Mullins pair State Man and Vauban in most ante-post betting lists for the €200,000 contest.

In other news Gordon Elliott’s unbeaten Gerri Colombe, a Grade One winner at Limerick over Christmas, is one of seven entries left in the Saturday’s Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column