Galopin Des Champs joined the list of Cheltenham Festival greats when brilliantly defending his Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup crown.

Having answered stamina doubts 12 months ago, the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs was ridden much handier this time by Paul Townend, as the last two Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase winners, The Real Whacker and L’Homme Presse, set the pace.

Townend had edged his way to join the front-runners jumping four out and although the loose Fastorslow threatened to check his momentum as Charlie Deutsch aboard L’Homme Presse set sail for home three out, there were few dramas for the week’s leading rider who looked in complete control jumping to the front two out.

L’Homme Presse and the brave Gerri Colombe looked beaten as Galopin Des Champs (10-11 favourite) approached the last with a clear advantage and he produced the leap of a real champion at the final obstacle before storming up the final climb to finish three and a half lengths clear of Gordon Elliott’s game runner-up Gerri Colombe.

Lucinda Russell’s Grand National hero Corach Rambler stayed on admirably for third, but the day belonged to Galopin Des Champs, who was scoring at the Cheltenham Festival for a third time.

Mullins and Townend were combining for their fourth Gold Cup triumph following Al Boum Photo’s back-to-back triumphs in 2019 and 2020 and Galopin Des Champs’ victory over Bravemansgame 12 months ago and it was a fitting way to cap a stellar week for the master of Closutton and his stable jockey.

Mullins said: “I think he just put himself in the superstar category – to do what he did and the way he did it.

“The loose horse was there and Paul was just so positive on him. Hopefully we can come back next year to win a third one – he has the ability to do it and we just have to stay sound, I think.

“He’s doing everything right and is achieving more than I thought he could. It was great to win a Gold Cup last year and we were crossing our fingers this year that if we got him there safe and sound, he’d have every chance of winning and he’s just done that. But you can only dream about these kinds of things.”

A proud Elliott said of Gerri Colombe: “My horse ran a great race and I’m very proud of him. He was up against a superstar.

“It’s always disappointing when you lose, but the horse that beat him is exceptional.”