Al Boum Photo joins Best Mate in Gold Cup record books for dominant Mullins and Townend

Al Boum Photo joined a select club when retaining his Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup today.

Jockey Paul Townend celebrates winning the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase with Al Boum Photo during day four of the Cheltenham Festival. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA
Jockey Paul Townend celebrates winning the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase with Al Boum Photo during day four of the Cheltenham Festival. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

No horse had retained the Gold Cup since Best Mate completed his famous hat-trick in 2004 but Al Boum Photo proved up to the task to give Willie Mullins, who waited so long to emulate his legendary father Paddy, a remarkable four-timer on the day.

The 100-30 favourite had to dig deep to prevail as the Nicky Henderson-trained Santini, Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation, and Henry De Bromhead’s Monalee threw down determined challenges up the famous hill but immortality doesn’t come easily and, ultimately, Paul Townend’s mount had his head in front where it matters.

“It's a fantastic, an absolutely unbelievable day,” Mullins said. “(I'm) delighted for Paul, it's not easy to take over from someone like Ruby Walsh, but Paul's gone and stamped his authority this season in Ireland riding for our yard, so I'm really delighted for him.”

Like last year, Al Boum Photo arrived at Cheltenham on the back of a sole run this season, the type of light campaign Henrietta Knight famously gave Best Mate.

“We just decided to follow what happened last year, why change it if it works? Thankfully it paid off. I think it was only history against him today. I didn't think the race was as tough as last year, Paul was brave on him and the whole thing came together. It's Paul's day today.”

Townend, who had his third winner on the day to clinch the top jockey prize, said: “I thought I'd never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year, (but) I think this is even better. It's all about this, it's all about this lad. It's a credit to Willie. To come here with one run (this season), the man's a genius.”

Few would argue with that assessment.

More on this topic

Al Boum Photo joins the greats with second Gold Cup successAl Boum Photo joins the greats with second Gold Cup success

Pat Keane: Power not to blame for Benie Des Dieux’s demisePat Keane: Power not to blame for Benie Des Dieux’s demise

Ruby Walsh: Another magical Festival and another Irish celebrationRuby Walsh: Another magical Festival and another Irish celebration

Mug's Game: Okay, so I was steeped but a win is a win — isn’t it?Mug's Game: Okay, so I was steeped but a win is a win — isn’t it?