Galopin Des Champs joins the Gold Cup greats in retaining the Cheltenham crown

Although L'Homme Presse led them home straight and national winner Corach Rambler crept in, Townend was for a brief moment ominously well poised and it was Gerri Colombe who looked the biggest threat to his superiority. But the runner-up, who had fallen from the top of the bridle hill, might have matched the winner in determination and never gave up, but he never quite had the legs of him.

Corach Rambler ran a great Grand National class finishing third with L'Homme Press fourth, Bravemansgame fifth with Jungle Boogie sixth and last. Gentlemansgame, Monkfish, Nassalam and The Real Whacker were all picked up.

Townend, leading jockey of the week, was too diplomatic to put Galopin Des Champs above Al Boum Photo, his and Mullins' other two-time winner, even though this one looks better to the neutral observer – in a way. But the jockey did call this Gold Cup a highlight.

“It was different from the other three, to be honest,” he said. “I can't really believe it, I'm a bit lost for words. He pulled out all the stops – we went in that last furlong looking for reserves that only the really good ones have. He was brave for me all the way.

“The loose one bothered us a bit and it was messy, but what he discovered on the straight from the back of the last – you see so many horses going to the last and not up the hill. He was there last year, but that was a different kind of ride.”

Mullins shipped 80 horses across the Irish Sea this week. Galopin Des Champs was the best of them when they left and he returns even better and is the only horse to defend a major title at this year's festival.

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