2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner Al Boum Photo was paraded around the village of Leighlinbridge on Monday evening to allow the on looking Irish people to greet and celebrate the geldings amazing triumph.
The seven year olds trainer Willie Mullins landed the Grade 1 contest at the 20th time of asking after previously finishing second in the race a remarkable six times but it was 2019 where he finally broke the curse and landed the feature contest of the festival.
Mullins emulated what his father Paddy Mullins did 33 years ago on the big stage at cheltenham when one of the only mares to win the Gold Cup in Dawn Run landed the race in 1986.
Jockey Paul Townend also got involved in the celebrations as he landed his first Gold Cup of his career with the frequent Grade 1 winning jockey having a tough year off the back of a nasty incident on board Al Boum Photo at Punchestown at the back end of the 2018 season, but he put that to rest with the biggest win of his career.
The parade, which was delayed by 10 days, in County Carlow which saw over 500 people attend to the streets of the village to see the Gold Cup winner up close and in the flesh and show there appreciation for the seven year old.
Mullins and Townend were in attendance alongside owners Joe and Marie Donnelly as they all collectively received the praise of the crowds of people that came.
(Credit At The Races) Trainer Willie Mullins said: “A lot of people made the time and effort to come out. We’re very pleased because I didn’t know if two or two hundred would turn up. We got a great turn out in the end and hopefully we’ll be back next year!
“It’s good to see the local interest. It’s very good to have the local community coming out. Al Boum Photo was a little sharper than I thought he would be because he’s normally very laid-back.
“I’d like to bring him back to Punchestown (Punchestown Gold Cup), that’s my goal, and it’s a nice break between Cheltenham and Punchestown.
“I know it’s dry at the moment, but Punchestown normally water well.”
The Cheltenham Hall Of Fame trainer had four possible chances in this year's Gold Cup and luckily for the trainer it was Al Boum Photo who did the business as the other three in the contest Bellshill, Kemboy and Invitation Only all failed to finish the race.
He added: “I had resigned myself to having another disappointing year in the Gold Cup, but thankfully Paul and Al Boum Photo came good.
“I couldn’t believe it as I was watching it unfold, how they were jumping and so relaxed. They were just a unit moving along nicely behind the pace.
“I thought if everything goes well they’ll have a chance and then it opened up turning for home and Paul just did the business and gave him a squeeze.
“What I like about him is that he’s so young and we have a lot to look forward to, but even if nothing else happens he’s done what we could never do before.
“It’s fitting that we’re here in Leighlinbridge as a lot of our plans started off inside the doors here at the Lord Bagenal Inn.”
As said, for jockey Paul Townend it was his greatest moment in the sport to date and he could add to this with around six weeks left of the season and him currently sitting pretty at the top of the Irish champion National Hunt jockey title.
(Credit At The Races) The rider said: “It’s great to see everyone here and especially so many kids. It’s a real local success and it feels special. It’s every bit as good, if not better, than I imagined.
“We’ve seen both extremes on this horse and that’s probably half the reason I lost the run of myself crossing the line and embarrassed myself a little bit.
“It’s brilliant and Willie has always had my back. For the owners to stand by me after what I did at Punchestown was a credit to them. It was brilliant to be able to repay both connections with the Gold Cup.”
He added: “I couldn’t believe how straightforward it went for me. I saw Kemboy (stablemate) falling, out of the corner of my eye, early on and noticed Ruby (Walsh, on Bellshill, another stablemate) wasn’t jumping down the back.
“Patrick (Mullins, aboard the stable’s fourth runner, the ill-fated Invitation Only) was in front of me and when he fell I was probably lucky enough not to get brought down by him.
“I hadn’t realised Ruby had pulled up by that stage, but I can only ride my horse and I was in such a brilliant rhythm going out the second time.
“He was jumping from fence to fence and taking a blow when he needed it. I was in the position I wanted to be without having to ask the horse anything.
“I probably committed a bit sooner than ideal, but just by bypassing the third-last it caused a bit of commotion going into the bend. I had the horse to get in there and was able to sit when I got into the gap.
“He pricked his ears down to the second-last and the last. I got a couple of smacks into him and he picked up and galloped to the top of the hill for me.
“We had a good start to the week, it let us settle into the week, but come Friday, Tuesday seemed a long time ago.
“I was definitely ready for another winner, but I never dreamt it would be in the Gold Cup.”