Al Boum Photo steps up Cheltenham prep

Willie Mullins says Al Boum Photo will do a “big bit of work” this week as he steps up his preparations for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The nine-year-old is a dual winner of the Cheltenham Festival showpiece and he will be aiming to join Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate as a three-time winner of the blue riband race, with Golden Miller remaining out in front with five victories to his name.

Al Boum Photo flexed his Cheltenham muscles by winning the Savills New Year’s Day Chase in January, just as he has in the last two years, but that will be his only competitive action ahead of next month’s Festival.

Despite that, Mullins is pleased with where the son of Buck’s Boum is at and he has confirmed his Gold Cup preparations will step up in earnest this week.

“He’s in great shape. He worked well last week and he’s a big bit of work coming up this week,” Mullins was quoted as saying by Racing TV. “He’s uncomplicated, he’s very nice to train.

Mullins has also admitted that he did not expect Al Boum Photo to be a staying star, particularly after the gelding produced an underwhelming chasing campaign in 2018 that included a fall in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and a run-out at Punchestown the following month.

“I didn’t think when we were buying him we’d be in this position, or indeed the day that he ran out in Punchestown, or when he had the mishap with Ruby (Walsh) jumping the last at Cheltenham,” Mullins added.

“He’s got a funny back history ? but here he is, a double Gold Cup winner going for his third. We’re very privileged to have him.”

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