Cheltenham Gold Cup: Al Boum Photo kicks off prep with traditional Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore | Racing News

Double Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo appears to be facing a relatively simple task in his run for a fourth straight win in the Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding first won the Listed competition in 2019 to provide the most successful coach in Cheltenham Festival history with an elusive first blue ribbon victory.

He repeated the feat in 2020 and followed the same path last season, but had to settle for a third place with minor praise when he aimed for the Gold Cup hat-trick.

After completing his final season by finishing second to the Clan Des Obeaux in the Punchestown Gold Cup, Mullins has stated his intention to compete with Al Boum Photo more frequently during this period.

But with Closutton’s handler deciding not to take care of the John Durkan in Punchestown or the Many Clouds in Aintree in early December, he once again makes his seasonal comeback in County Waterford.

Patrick Mullins, his father’s assistant, said: “The right opportunity has not presented itself, so you know Willie, ‘if in doubt, take it.’

“We could try to give him another run before Cheltenham if we can find the right opportunity. But he’s ready to go as he never was for this race. We’ll try to match (Grade One winner Matheson Hurdle) Sharjah and win four. in a row.

“He’s an older horse and he needs a little more gallop. In an ideal world, giving him another ride before Cheltenham is what we’d like to do.”

Al Boum Photo won the Savills Chase en route to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in 2019 and 2020

Al Boum Photo is joined by four teammates, including Acapella Bourgeois, which filled second place in each of the last two renewals.

The trio owned by Rich and Susannah Ricci’s Annamix, Brahma Bull and last season’s fourth Grand National Holy Burrows complete the Mullins quintet, with Gordon Elliott’s Hard line the only other runner.

Mullins junior added: “Acapella seems to run well in these parts too, I think the track really suits him.

“Obviously he’s 12 now and he has to give 7lbs to everything but Al Boum, so it won’t be easy for him. But it’s his first race of the season and it’s a good starting point for him.

“The others are all gaining 7lbs. They’ve all had a run. Brahma Bull and Annamix have been in great shape since the summer.

“Burrows Saint has raced but his main focus will obviously be later in the season at Aintree, so it’s a race that suits some of these horses that are hard to place. Al Boum can’t be below par for battles. “

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