Cheltenham Festival

How the 2023 Gold Cup unfolded at Cheltenham on Friday

Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame jump the last in the Gold Cup
Galopin Des Champs (near) takes the last alongside Bravemansgame in the Cheltenham Gold CupCredit: Ryan Pierse

First circuit

Derek Fox gets Ahoy Senor to his customary front-running position, with Shark Hanlon's bargain buy Hewick just behind him, and sets a good tempo.

Last year's National Hunt Chase winner Stattler can't go the pace despite some rousting from Patrick Mullins and is pulled up before the completion of the first circuit, while Minella Indo and Nico de Boinville follow suit two fences later.

Paul Townend has favourite Galopin Des Champs, who takes a little while to warm up, out the back, along with last year's Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard, ridden by Rachael Blackmore.

Ahoy Senor (front): has the field strung out on the first circuit
Ahoy Senor (front) has the field strung out on the first circuitCredit: Racing TV

Second circuit

Ahoy Senor jumps well, his first mistake a slight error at the seventh-last, but gives Fox no chance at the sixth-last, getting in too close to the fence and coming down right in front of the remaining runners.

Directly behind him, Sounds Russian is badly hampered and brought down, while Blackmore sees the fall late and is also badly hampered at the back aboard A Plus Tard. Townend and Galopin Des Champs avoid the incident and start to move smoothly into the race.

Blackmore and last year's winner jump two more fences but are too far back, and the repeat bid ends with A Plus Tard being pulled up.

Ahoy Senor comes down at the sixt-last fence, bringing down Sounds Russian and hampering A Plus Tard
Ahoy Senor comes down at the sixth-last fence, bringing down Sounds Russian and hampering A Plus TardCredit: Racing TV

Three out

As the business end of the race looms, Hewick is still on the bridle in the front, while last year's third Protektorat is being pumped along by a frantic Harry Skelton.

Sam Ewing, a late substitute for Davy Russell, looks to be travelling well aboard Conflated, while Bravemansgame – ridden by Harry Cobden – starts to move up just behind the pacesetter.

Townend is inching closer on the favourite and now just five lengths separate the five remaining runners as they turn for home.

Five left with a chance as they approach the third-last
There are five in with a chance as they approach the third-lastCredit: Racing TV

Turning in

Cobden breaks cover first, moving up alongside Hewick and leaving Conflated stuck on the inside with nowhere to go. Ewing looks to emerge from behind the Paul Nicholls runner, but Townend blocks him in as he gets Galopin Des Champs firmly into contention.

Bravemansgame hits the front as they approach the second-last but Townend remains motionless aboard Galopin Des Champs.

Longtime leader Hewick falls heavily at the second-last, leaving Bravemansgame and Galopin Des Champs to fight out victory, but while Cobden gets to work on his mount, Townend still has a double handful coming to the last, the fence at which it all went wrong in the Turners 12 months ago.

Bravemansgame hits the front with Galopin Des Champs stalking him
Bravemansgame hits the front with Galopin Des Champs stalking himCredit: Racing TV

At the last

Punters on the favourite have their hearts in their mouths as Galopin Des Champs approaches the last, where he fell when 12 lengths clear in last year's Turners, but he clears it with ease and lands running.

He goes into unknown territory stamina-wise, many observers having questioned whether he would truly stay the Gold Cup trip.

But he pulls right away from Bravemansgame up the Cheltenham hill, looking stronger the further he goes, and Townend rises from the saddle in celebration as he crosses the line seven lengths clear.

Paul Townend and Galoin Des Champs pull away on the run-in
Paul Townend and Galopin Des Champs pull away on the run-inCredit: Racing TV

Read these next:

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'As brilliant a ride as I've ever seen in any horserace' - McCoy heaps praise on Townend 

2023 Cheltenham Gold Cup result: where your horse finished and who won 

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Harry WilsonReporter
Published on 17 March 2023Last updated 18:02, 17 March 2023