Al Boum Photo’s racecourse debut also provided drama, as he fell when in contention in a three-year-old conditions hurdle at Moulins, France. He was then trained by Emmanuel Clayeux, but was gelded and sent over to Closutton and Willie P Mullins for a novice hurdle campaign in late 2016 into 2017.
Sent off the even money favourite, Al Boum Photo and Ruby Walsh hit the front going well in a Fairyhouse maiden in December 2016 but couldn’t pick up during the closing stages and would only finish third.
Al Boum Photo shed his maiden tag at the second time of asking in January 2017, winning a minor Thurles maiden hurdle by over eight lengths. With his novice status only protected until the end of the 2016/17 season, he was pitched into Grade 2 company at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival and it proved to be an inspired move from the Mullins team.
Touted as the 10/1 second string behind stablemate Invitation Only, Al Boum Photo again travelled strongly in soft ground, and despite finding trouble in running, Townend was able to guide him to the front at the final hurdle before pulling clear to land Grade 2 honours.
That success meant he was thrust into Grade 1 company for the first time, running in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in April 2017 over three miles. On atypical quick ground for the track and time of year, Al Boum Photo was caught for speed and made two mistakes which cost him any chance, eventually finishing fifth behind Gordon Elliott’s Champagne Classic.
Having had just four starts over hurdles, Al Boum Photo was sent chasing in November of 2017 and was able to make a winning debut over fences at Navan, comfortably staying on past a host of Gigginstown and JP McManus-owned horses to win by seven lengths. Having fallen a month later in a winnable Grade 2 at Limerick when odds-on favourite, Al Boum Photo bounced back to form when finishing second in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown at the 2018 Dublin Racing Festival. It proved to be a very hot renewal of the race with horses such as Monalee, Invitation Only, Snow Falcon, The Storyteller and Rathvinden in behind.
Al Boum Photo would suffer the third fall of his fledgling career at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, unshipping Ruby Walsh - who would break his leg in the fall - after looking booked for a placed finish in the RSA Chase behind Monalee and Presenting Percy. Al Boum Photo would land a first Grade 1 success in his next race, taking the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse when outstaying JLT winner Shattered Love to land the €59,000 first prize, with David Mullins on board. However, his last race of the 2017/18 season would be his most dramatic.
After travelling well into the three-mile Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown, Monalee and Invitation Only fell either side of Al Boum Photo, leaving him clear of the field. However, in a moment of panic, rider Paul Townend thought the final fence was being bypassed and ran outside the wings of the fence, taking Finian’s Oscar and Robbie Power with him in dramatic fashion.
The Mullins team opted for a lighter 2018/19 campaign with Al Boum Photo, with ground coming up too quick for the horse till his seasonal reappearance on New Year’s Day, when he put away a decent field in the Listed Savills Chase at Tramore despite giving weight away for the entire field.