Willie Mullins is looking forward to seeing his dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo bid for a hat-trick in the Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore.
The Buck’s Boum gelding ended up running in the two-mile-five-furlong contest almost by accident two seasons ago, after sidestepping the Savills Chase at Leopardstown the previous week on account of unsuitably quick ground.
With the same issue ruling him out of a subsequent run in the Irish Gold Cup, Al Boum Photo lined up at Cheltenham as no more than a lively outsider but finally provided his trainer with an elusive first victory in the blue riband under Paul Townend.
Mullins’ decision to follow the same route last season again paid off in the Cotswolds in March – and Al Boum Photo will be a red-hot favourite once more to make a successful comeback at the seaside venue on Friday.
Mullins said: “It’s a good preparation. I brought him down there for the proper winter jumping ground, which he enjoys, and it worked two years running. Hopefully it will work again this year.
“We’ve started off plenty of horses that have won at Cheltenham and other big venues in Tramore. We always get very nice jumping ground down there. We get safe jumping ground, and that’s key.
“I think that’s key to the preparation of any any jumping horse, and they learn a lot at Tramore. You’re up and down and round – it’s no different from Cheltenham. You’re either turning or jumping – and they learn a good bit there that they might not learn on big, flat tracks.”
Al Boum Photo faces just four rivals in the Grade Three contest, with Mullins also fielding last year’s runner-up Acapella Bourgeois and Brahma Bull – who was last seen chasing home leading Gold Cup hope Minella Indo at Navan.
John Queally’s Djingle and the Andrew McNamara-trained I’m A Game Changer complete the quintet.