Al Boum Photo retains Cheltenham Gold Cup

Al Boum Photo became the first back-to-back winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup since the great Best Mate as he triumphed again for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

Having had six second places before finally winning the big prize last year, the Irish trainer has now claimed it twice in a row.

As sport shuts down all over Western Europe due to the coronavirus outbreak, all eyes were on a Festival many believed should have been cancelled. But go ahead it did and there was a memorable centrepiece to the final day of racing.

Sent off the 100-30 favourite, Al Boum Photo travelled well throughout for Townend and seized control jumping the last as Lostintranslation tried his best to challenge.

Santini also emerged from behind to stake his claim and the three of them battled it out up the hill, with Al Boum Photo hanging on at the line as Santini closed the gap to a neck.

Lostintranslation was a length and a quarter away in third place, with the always-prominent Monalee fourth and Delta Work fifth, having struggled to get into contention following a mistake at the second fence.

Al Boum Photo follows in the hoofprints of Best Mate, who won the race three times between 2002 and 2004.

Al Boum Photo (right), jumps the last on the way to winning the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup from Lostintranslation (left).

Townend, who sealed the Festival’s Leading Jockey award with the win, said: “It’s amazing. I tell you, I’d want some boot in the rear end if I was in front that early and got beat by Santini though.

“I thought I’d never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year, I think this is even better. It’s all about this, it’s all about this lad.

“Unreal, it’s a credit to Willie. To come here with one run, the man’s a genius.”

Mullins won the first four races of the day, to bring his total for the week to seven and put him in pole position to be leading trainer once again.

Mullins said: “It’s a fantastic, absolutely unbelievable day. That man Paul Townend, people said he was under pressure.

“Paul does his own thing, he probably rides better under a little bit of pressure, (it was) really, really good from him.

“(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.”

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