Gold Cup Result: Al Boum Photo seals historic double

Al Boum Photo became the first horse since Best Mate to win back-to-back renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Al Boum Photo became the first horse since Best Mate to win back-to-back renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Al Boum Photo repeated his Cheltenham Gold Cup heroics from 12 months ago to become just the seventh back-to-back winner in the race’s history. 

It’s a feat which has been so far saved for the very greatest names in the sport, and Al Boum Photo will join the likes of Golden Miller and Arkle in winning this for the second year running, with Best Mate the only other horse to achieve the feat this century. 

There were plenty of challengers to the throne this year, and almost all of the 12-runner field had a conceivable chance of taking the Grade 1 prize turning for home. 

However, Paul Townend bided his time on the favourite, and the eight-year-old stayed on strongest up the hill to round off a fantastic week for Willie Mullins - who was subsequently crowned as ‘Top Trainer’ at the Festival. 

The race was one of the most wide-open renewals that we’ve seen for years, and Al Boum Photo faced stiff competition for this throne from the likes of the Cotswold Chase winner Santini, and the Betfair Chase hero Lostintranslation

There was plenty of doubt around the careful preparation of the defending champion, who for the second year running had just one start before lining up here - at Tramore on New Year’s Day. But the careful approach proved fruitful, and under a masterful ride from Paul Townend, he showed plenty of resolve to hold off the attentions of the staying on Santini and prevail by a neck - with Lostintranslation third and the Irish raider Monalee a close fourth. 

Mullins explained that he was careful to stick to the same formula which proved so fruitful last year. He said: "We're delighted to win the race for the second year running with Al Boum Photo.

"We just decided not to break winning formula and just take in the same preparation as he did last year. Don't break a winning formula when it works and it's paid off thankfully.

"I thought this year's Gold Cup wasn't anything like last year's. I was just thinking if he had a clear round and a bit of luck then it was all to play for.

"I was happy throughout and Paul was brave on him at the last. Paul's plan came together and I'm delighted for him as well as Marie and Joe Donnelly, so I am just delighted.

"It's fantastic and an absolutely unbelievable day. Paul does his own thing and he probably rides better under a little bit of pressure.

"It's really, really good for him. I am delighted for Paul. To take over from someone like Ruby Walsh - Paul has come and stamped his authority on his season in Ireland riding for our yard.

"It is a tough act to follow, but he is Paul Townend, stable jockey to Willie Mullins and he is top-class - I'm really pleased for him.”

Meanwhile, Townend could hide his delight at the performance, and said: “"It's amazing. I'd want some boot in the rear end if I had been in front that early and got beat by Santini. I thought that I would never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year, but I think this is even better. It's unreal. It's a credit to Willie - to go to Tramore two years in a row and come here with one run - the man is a genius.

"To be honest, I just went out with the plan of getting into a rhythm like last year. We've missed a few fences but he's always found his feet, and it just happened again at the top of the hill, he was jumping a bit better and I ended up in front a bit sooner than I wanted, but I was able to hang on there and produce him when I needed him at the last. He's a tough animal.

"It was a very different race to last year - we knew that going out there, everyone knew it was going to be a different race to last year, but it's the same result, which is the main thing!

"I didn't have to fight for it; a couple of good jumps got it for me there, and I think that was very important. He has everything, this horse. Guts as much as everything else.”

Cheltenham Festival Results
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