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Al Boum Photo defends Cheltenham Gold Cup in thriller as Willie Mullins does it again

Nicky Henderson was happy with how his horse performed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886629

Al Boum Photo defends Cheltenham Gold Cup after a thrilled battle as Willie Mullins does it again

AL Boum Photo recorded back-to-back victories in the Magners Gold Cup, edging out Santini on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Willie Mullins-trained horse came into the race as hot favourite, having won the Grade 1 race at this very racecourse 12 months ago.

The 10-year-old powered over the final fence, holding off a late threat from Nicky Henderson's Santini, to hand Mullins and jockey Paul Townend another victory in this special race.

Speaking after the glory, Mullins said: "It's fantastic, it's been an unbelievable day and Paul [Townend], who people said was under pressure, does his own thing and rides better under a little bit of pressure - it's really good for him.

"I am delighted for Paul because it's very hard to try and take over from someone like Ruby Walsh and he has stamped his authority on his season in Ireland and for our yard.

"I left him alone, I asked him what he was going to do and he said what he was going to do and the horse didn't disappoint because Paul let the horse do what he wanted and that shows a rider with huge confidence."

It was an all-round special day for Mullins and his team as Al Boum Photo's success in the Gold Cup was their fourth successive victory of the final day at Cheltenham.

Despite just missing out on the top prize, Seven Barrows trainer Henderson was happy with how Santini approached the race.

"He couldn't have done anything else," said Henderson. "He never touched a fence, he never missed and he was in the perfect position the whole way and he fought like a lion.

"He [Al Boum Photo] was better by a neck on the day. To be fair, it's only his sixth steeplechase of his life and he only has to improve a neck. After what Champ did, I couldn't ask for that twice.

"It was as good as I could have had him and Nico [de Boinville] has given him a beautiful ride, it was a really good race," added Henderson.

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