Al Boum Photo

Al Boum Photo

AL BOUM PHOTO HORSE

Two-time Grade 1 winner Al Boum Photo is best known for giving all-conquering Irish trainer Willie Mullins his first success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with victory in the Blue Riband event on March 15, 2019.

He did so despite being a relative 12/1 outsider, travelling strongly throughout the race before powering clear under Paul Townend to win by over two lengths at the line.

It was redemption at Prestbury Park for Townend - now first choice jockey for Mullins after the retirement of Ruby Walsh - after a devastating defeat on Al Boum Photo in the 2018 Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown. Then the pair ran out with the horse looking certain to win the race at the final fence.

Out of Al Gane and sired by Buck’s Boum, whose offspring includes 2019 Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres and Grade 1 winner Dynamite Dollars, Al Boum Photo is owned by Marie and Joe Donnelly, a former bookmaker.

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AL BOUM PHOTO’S CAREER

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.

AL BOUM PHOTO’S GOLD CUP

That Tramore success was enough for Willie Mullins to send Al Boum Photo straight to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race he himself had never won before.

Bellshill was the first choice for the Mullins team and was chosen by Ruby Walsh, with Paul Townend on Al Boum Photo. It would provide stunning redemption for the 28-year-old jockey. Mullins’ three other entries had all fallen by the wayside with over a circuit to run, but Townend and Al Boum Photo remained in contention and on the bridle in behind the 2018 winner Native River and runner-up Might Bite.

From there, Townend asked Al Boum Photo to hit top gear and he duly delivered, pulling two lengths clear at the second last fence before holding off the challenges of Anibale Fly and Bristol De Mai to win by two-and-a-half lengths.

It would be a delightful twist of fate for Townend, who said after the race: “To repay them with a Gold Cup is the best feeling in the world. I can’t believe it.

“My body is physically shaking. You dream of winning a Gold Cup when you grow up. I can guarantee it’s as good as you dream it’s gonna be. I felt like I owed it to the horse.”

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AL BOUM PHOTO ENTRIES

Al Boum Photo has no entries yet for the 2019/20 season, but will take a similar route to last year with the aim to peak for the Cheltenham Gold Cup (March 13, 2020) and the Punchestown Gold Cup.

At The Winners Enclosure, we will have all the best bets on all Grade 1 races in the UK and Ireland - including the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals - in the days leading up to the race from our experienced panel of betting experts.

AL BOUM PHOTO IN TRAINING

As mentioned earlier, Al Boum Photo is trained by Irish master trainer Willie Mullins, who won his first Cheltenham Gold Cup with the horse in 2019. Some of his greatest horses include three-time Irish Gold Cup winner Florida Pearl, six-time Mares’ Hurdle winner Quevega and 2005 Grand National winner Hedgehunter.

He is based at Closutton, Co Carlow and his stable jockey is Paul Townend, having taken over from the brilliant Ruby Walsh in April 2019 after the latter retired following his Punchestown Gold Cup win on Kemboy.

Walsh rode Al Boum Photo on his first two starts as well as his run in the 2018 RSA Chase, but Townend has taken the reins on six occasions, including his Cheltenham Gold Cup victory. David Mullins has also been on board Al Boum Photo for three races, including his Ryanair Gold Cup success in April 2018.

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