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    03 February 2024

    Insights from those involved in the Irish Gold Cup

    Willie Mullins and Martin Brassil Prepare for a Spectacular Encounter

    The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday promises to deliver another intense showdown between two formidable contenders – Galopin Des Champs and Fastorslow, trained by Willie Mullins and Martin Brassil respectively.

    This fierce rivalry has already seen these horses meet thrice before. Their first encounter in the John Durkan back in 2022 resulted in a convincing victory for Galopin Des Champs, leaving Fastorslow trailing behind by a massive margin of 21 lengths.

    However, as time went on, the tables turned. Galopin Des Champs emerged as the new sensation of Irish horse racing after winning the prestigious Gold Cup at Cheltenham last April. Meanwhile, Fastorslow demonstrated his growing potential by challenging him at Punchestown after narrowly losing to Corach Rambler – who eventually won the Grand National – in a handicap race.

    In that highly anticipated face-off at Punchestown, it was Fastorslow who prevailed as an underdog with odds of 20-1 against him. This triumph proved that his previous victory was no fluke when he once again defeated Galopin Des Champs in this season’s John Durkan upon their respective comebacks.

    Mullins’ Optimism and Change of Tactics Set the Stage

    Willie Mullins, the champion trainer, firmly believes that Galopin Des Champs has found his stride once again. A change in tactics during the Christmas race allowed him to rediscover his best form. Unfortunately, Fastorslow had to withdraw from the Savills Chase due to unfavorable ground conditions.

    Mullins eagerly anticipates another thrilling battle between these two exceptional horses and hopes they will be neck-and-neck approaching the finish line at Leopardstown: “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.”

    The Irish Gold Cup holds significant importance for Mullins as he consistently targets this event rather than opting for other races leading up to Cheltenham. He recognizes its value in terms of prize money and supporting local competitions: “It’s got great prize money and we must support our own races, that’s my view.”

    Reflecting on past achievements and dreams realized, Mullins acknowledges how far he has come: “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…”

    Brassil Sees Fastorslow Rising Star

    Martin Brassil shares Willie Mullins’ excitement as Fastorslow elevates him back into prominence within racing circles. The Grand National-winning trainer (with Numbersixvalverde in 2006) recognizes Fastorslow as his star attraction:

    “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.”

    Fastorslow’s near-miss at Cheltenham only further demonstrates his caliber, as he battled against stiff competition and lost by a narrow margin. Brassil highlights the horse’s jumping prowess and consistent ability to make up ground over fences.

    Regarding Fastorslow’s performance in the John Durkan, Brassil doesn’t believe it went unnoticed: “I don’t think he’s underestimated after what he did in the John Durkan; he’s a solid second favorite, and if he runs up to what is expected, we’d be happy.”

    The Field Completes with Conflated

    Gordon Elliott’s entry, Conflated, adds another exciting dimension to this high-profile race. As last year’s Savills Chase winner and hero of the Irish Gold Cup 2022 edition, Conflated brings an impressive record into play. However…

    “Conflated should only be third based on ratings,” says Elliott. Yet despite this assessment, there remains optimism surrounding Conflated due to his current form: “He’s in good form…”

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