As the autumn wades in to bring longer nights and colder weather, horse racing fans will wave goodbye to the young stars of the flat racing season and welcome in the returning heroes of the jumps discipline. The latter will start to reappear around October, with most of the big names guaranteed a run out by Christmas. And when it comes to big names for the 2023/24 national hunt season, they don’t come bigger than Galopin Des Champs. The Willie Mullins-trained Cheltenham 2023 Gold Cup winner is definitely the one to watch this season, with many believing he is a once-in-a-generation star with much more to give.
But from a betting perspective, we’d be interested to hear how punters feel about the ante-post markets for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. At the time of writing, the horse racing odds online put Galopin at around 2/1 for a second successive Gold Cup. It makes him the favourite – by a considerable distance – but whereas some punters will see value, others will be a bit more tentative. A lot can happen between now and the 15th March (Gold Cup Day 2024), and we have seen before that horses can simply go off the boil for no apparent reason.
Reasons to back Galopin des Champs now
Can we make an argument on backing Galopin des Champs now? Sure. For a start, we should point out that 2/1 is a lot higher than his 7/5 SP in the 2023 Gold Cup. Moreover, Galopin has been odds-on favourite for every race in his chasing career, the 2023 Gold Cup excepted. If he returns this season and shows his undoubted prowess, he could be the first odds-on favourite for the Gold Cup since 2008, when Kauto Star went off at 10/11 (he finished second). The point is that those odds of 2/1 could look massive by the time the Cheltenham Festival comes around.
We mentioned earlier that Galopin has “much more to give”, and the reason so many have that consensus is that he is a young horse (relative to jumps racing) at seven years old. He has arguably not hit his peak yet, which is a scary factor for rival stables. Both Best Mate and Kauto Star won their first Gold Cups at 7, and many believe Galopin could have a couple more years of similar dominance. Finally, we might add that there isn’t huge depth among his rivals. Gerri Colombe, Bravemansgame, Shishkin, and Corach Rambler are all good horses, with Shishkin being hugely interesting given his step up in trip. But it feels like none could hold a candle to Galopin if he replicates his 2023 form.
Reasons to avoid backing Galopin des Champs
“If” is an important term in horse racing betting. All of the above reasons to back Galopin in the ante-post markets would fall apart if the horse runs into problems in the new season. He could get injured, simply lack form, or run into other problems. It’s happened before in horse racing, and it will happen again. Perhaps more importantly, the odds could drift across the coming months. Say, for example, Galopin looks a little rusty when he returns this season, one could see those odds rise away from 2/1 to higher prices, even if they do tighten again closer to Gold Cup Day. Sometimes in horse racing, placing the bet at the right time is just as important as who you back.
The point, as such, is that we head into a new season looking into the unknown. Mullins’ yard has produced some of the greatest ever jumps performers down the years, but there have also been examples – Douvan springs to mind – of star performers simply fading away unexpectedly. Your ante-post bet on Galopin today might look foolish tomorrow. That’s the art of horse racing betting. You’re not just betting on the race itself, but placing a long-term punt on seeing the Galopin des Champs we all expect to see.