Willie Mullins says it would be foolish to write off Al Boum Photo (11/1 – Gold Cup Winner) as he goes in search of a third Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
The 10-year-old finally broke Mullins’ duck in the Festival’s Friday feature when scoring in the race in 2019 and repeated the feat 12 months later.
He and Paul Townend were aiming for a hat-trick 12 months ago, only to come home third behind the Henry De Bromhead pair of Minella Indo (6/1 – Gold Cup Winner) and A Plus Tard (5/2) in a fascinating renewal.
Both reoppose on Friday, while Gordon Elliott’s Galvin (7/2) is also expected to be a contender.
An Al Boum Photo win would perhaps appeal more to the public, though, with connections hoping that the gelding can become the first horse to regain the title since Kauto Star in 2009 and the first three-time winner since Best Mate completed his hat-trick in 2004.
Mullins has employed his usual route of giving this son of Buck’s Boum just one preparation run in the form of a fourth straight victory in the Savills New Year’s Day Chase and has opted to run him in cheekpieces after positive results at home.
The Closutton-maestro also has Tornado Flyer (12/1 Gold Cup Winner) and Asterion Forlonge (25/1) in the Gold Cup but seems pretty clear on which of his runners he thinks has the best chance of success.
“(Al Boum Photo) Is in good form and we’re putting cheekpieces on him for the first time,” he wrote in his column for Sporting Life. “He’s worn them at home schooling, and I think they’ll be a big help to him.
“I’d rather not have seen the drying ground but we can’t have it every way. He likes the track, will handle the ground anyway and if the cheekpieces work he has every chance in what looks an open race.”