Cheltenham Festival

Surprise as bookies hail Galopin Des Champs win as 'a very good result'

Bookmakers were made to suffer as Galopin Des Champs and Lossiemouth obliged at short prices
Some layers were made to suffer as Galopin Des Champs and Lossiemouth obliged at short pricesCredit: Alan Crowhurst

If an unpredictable Thursday had allowed bookmakers to draw back somewhere near level with Cheltenham Festival punters, then an all-too-predictable Willie Mullins big-race double ought to have turned the tide firmly against the layers on the final day of the meeting. 

However, the reaction among the established firms was rather more mixed. Paddy Power described the victory of Galopin Des Champs in the Boodles Gold Cup as "a very good result," while William Hill described the 7-5 winner as "not that strong." At the end of the final day, Coral said the festival overall was "one to remember for many punters".

Mullins had the first three in the betting for the JCB Triumph Hurdle and earlier in the week Blood Destiny had deposed Lossiemouth as market leader. Come the day, Lossiemouth opened up the 13-8 favourite and there was barely any let-up in support for Paul Townend's mount, who was roared home at 11-8. 

Bookmakers received some reprieve with 33-1 and 18-1 winners of the County Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett respectively, before Mullins and Townend made no mistake with the classy Galopin Des Champs.

Lossiemouth: dominant in the Triumph Hurdle
Lossiemouth: a painful start to the day for bookmakers on day four at CheltenhamCredit: Alan Crowhurst

Coral's David Stevens: "Lossiemouth gave favourite backers the perfect start to the busiest betting day of the festival and while the next two winners, Faivoir and Stay Away Fay, were much harder to find, Galopin Des Champs' many backers had plenty of time to cheer the seven-year-old home as he went clear up the famous hill.

"A winning favourite in the second biggest betting race of the entire year is never going to be a good result for the bookmakers and the Lossiemouth-Galopin Des Champs double was also extremely popular, ensuring this year's festival will be one to remember for many punters." 

The championship races on Tuesday and Wednesday went the way of odds-on shots – Constitution Hill was the shortest-priced winner in the history of the Champion Hurdle – as did the National Hunt Chase, while the Mullins-trained El Fabiolo justified his 11-10 price in the Arkle.

The defeats of Mighty Potter and Shishkin on Thursday gave the contest some semblance of equity, before Friday once again turned fairly decisively in favour of backers.

Even the defeat of the Mullins and Townend fancy Allegorie De Vassy in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase provided scant relief for bookmakers, given it came at the hands of a well-backed 15-8 second favourite in Impervious. Yet, surprisingly Paddy Power and William Hill reported coming out ahead on the day.

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “Irish eyes must have been smiling on the bookies all right in the Gold Cup as despite the winner being favourite, amazingly it was a very good result for us, although some shrewd punters did have some ante-post run-ups on him.” 

William Hill's Lee Phelps was of a similar sentiment, saying: "Favourite Galopin Des Champs winning the Gold Cup wasn’t a bad result at all. He was wrapped up in a few costly multiples, but in the race itself he wasn’t overly strong.

“It was a tricky day for punters, with turn-ups in the Albert Bartlett, County and Hunter Chase, and we’ve ended the festival in front. The costliest thing for us this year has been long-standing ante-post multiples. We’ve seen a number of punters pocketing tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds thanks to some well-judged accumulators and that has taken the gloss off what has been a solid week.”

Galopin Des Champs
Galopin Des Champs was another great result for backers of Willie MullinsCredit: Patrick McCann

Among the firms costlier liabilities was a six-figure payout thanks to two long-range bets that came to fruition on Friday for the same foresighted customer. 

An £10 each-way double placed on Christmas Eve 2021 featuring Constitution Hill at 25-1 and Galopin Des Champs at 33-1 produced a payout of £26,520, while the same client scooped another £74,722 thanks to a £10 four-fold placed last March on the same two horses, along with Desert Crown to win the Derby and Tuesday in the Oaks.

No whip disqualification at Cheltenham

Six rides at the Cheltenham Festival have been referred to the whip review committee under the new rules brought into force this year, with no horses at risk of disqualification.

There had been considerable focus on how riders would adjust to competing at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time since the changes to the rules came into force on February 13. 

Horses could potentially be disqualified if jockeys went four or more strikes over the permitted level of seven during a race.

However, none of the winning rides was referred for using the whip above the permitted level, according to the BHA, with only one of the six referrals being for a ride given to a winning horse.

Of the six referrals, which came from a total of 444 rides, three were for using the whip more than seven times during a race, two were for use of the whip in the incorrect place and one was for using the whip over shoulder height.

Final standings

Willie Mullins 6-7-8
Gordon Elliott 3-6-5
Henry de Bromhead 3-2-0
Paul Nicholls 2-1-3
Dan Skelton 2-0-0
Nicky Henderson 1-3-2
Barry Connell 1-0-0
Bradley Gibbs 1-0-0
Colm Murphy 1-0-0
Jamie Snowden 1-0-0
John Kiely 1-0-0
John McConnell 1-0-0
Lucinda Russell 1-0-0
O Greenall & J Guerriero 1-0-0
Patrick Neville 1-0-0
Sam Curling 1-0-0
Tony Martin 1-0-0

Paul Townend 5-3-0
Harry Cobden 2-1-3
Rachael Blackmore 2-1-0
Michael O’Sullivan 2-0-0
Patrick Mullins 1-2-3
Nico de Boinville 1-1-0
Mark Walsh 1-0-3
Aidan Kelly 1-0-0
Ben Harvey 1-0-0
Bradley Gibbs 1-0-0
Brian Hayes 1-0-0
Bridget Andrews 1-0-0
Darragh O’Keeffe 1-0-0
Derek Fox 1-0-0
Gavin Sheehan 1-0-0
Harry Skelton 1-0-0
John Gleeson 1-0-0
Keith Donoghue 1-0-0
Liam McKenna 1-0-0
Patrick King 1-0-0
Sam Twiston-Davies 1-0-0

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Scott BurtonFrance correspondent
Published on 17 March 2023Last updated 19:18, 17 March 2023