Galopin Des Champs made it back-to-back wins in the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup and a Grade 1 sweep on day one of the Dublin Racing Festival for Willie Mullins.

The Audrey Turley-owned chaser was something of a surprise runner in this contest after his electric performance in the Savills Chase at this course over Christmas, with many presuming he would go straight to the Festival. His trainer was keen to come here however, and he was rewarded with his 13th victory in the three-mile contest, a sequence which began with Florida Pearl’s win in 1999.

This race took on a different complexion than the Savills, with the presumed front runner Conflated sitting in behind for Jack Kennedy. That lad Paul Townend to make the running on Galopin Des Champs, and a seemingly steadily run contest ensued. Fastorslow and JJ Slevin tracked them all the way and looked dangerous on the turn in, but Townend always looked comfortable on the winner, allowing him to move on after the last for a four-and-a-half-length score.

“He set his own pace which is hard to do on soft ground,”said Willie Mullins. “Paul made sure he was going to go fast enough and try and suck the energy out of those in behind.

“We thought Conflated might make the running but Paul had to take the race by the horns. I thought for a minute that over the third to fifth last fences, JJ Slevin’s body language was very good, but then when Paul went on and got a big jump at the second last, you could see the distress signals coming out (on Fastorslow) and Paul always looked happy from there.

“Gold Cups are always important so it’s nice to have another Irish one for Greg and Audrey (Turley). It’s tremendous prize money, a tremendous day here at Leopardstown, and everyone says it’s a trial for Cheltenham but I think it’s a race in its own right, and a race that needs to be respected.”

The eight-year-old was shortened into odds-on for the Gold Cup with the majority of firms and reflecting on his season so far, Mullins said: “It wasn’t a hard decision (to run here). Moving the John Durkan back gives you much more scope. You can run in the John Durkan, run at Christmas and get this race in and go to Cheltenham.

“He’s had a tremendous season now so no matter what happens down the road, we’re very happy. The next stage is the next stage but if it doesn’t happen for whatever reason we have this in the trophy cabinet.”