Al Boum Photo is bidding to become just the third horse in history to win the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris and the Cheltenham Gold Cup when he runs at Auteuil on Sunday.
The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old is a dual winner of Cheltenham’s blue riband but only Mandarin and The Fellow have won both races before.
Well beaten by stablemate Allaho at Punchestown having finished only sixth at Cheltenham this year, Mullins is hoping his chaser takes a shine to the different test.
“Al Boum Photo deserves to run in the Grand Steeple. He is a two-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It would be nice to have a horse that could tackle Auteuil and Cheltenham,” he said.
“Riding him this season Paul (Townend) felt he was fresher than he was last season. You never know, he might take a shine to Auteuil and be very competitive.
“Joe and Marie (Donnelly, owners) are going to be there so everything suits. Hopefully we’ll go close.
“I thought it was a good run at Punchestown. In those long distance chases, when your chance has gone so far out jockeys don’t persist. He ran well but Allaho was just awesome on the day. He’ll be fine as he didn’t have a very hard race when his chance had gone.”
Mullins also runs Burrows Saint (Rachael Blackmore) and Franco De Port (Danny Mullins) in the highlight of the French season.
“Burrows Saint ran well in this when fifth in 2019,” Mullins went on.
“My worry with him is that he hasn’t produced his best form this year. Maybe he was going to do that in the Aintree National as he was travelling quite well when he fell – although there was still a circuit to go. That’s my worry about Burrows Saint.
“Franco De Port is a shot in the dark. On ratings he would not be good enough, but he jumps well enough and has a pedigree which lends itself to this distance. He jumps very well.”
Richard Hobson’s Lord Du Mesnil is the other British challenger while James Reveley rides Gex.
On Saturday, Mullins also runs three in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil, the French Champion Hurdle.
They are top-class staying hurdler Klassical Dream and two better known for their exploits over fences, Kemboy and Tornado Flyer.
Mullins said: “I imagine Klassical Dream is the best of ours.
“He’s a very good horse, he came down the hill with a chance at Cheltenham and then petered out. He’s a very difficult ride. We just don’t know what he might do. He can take the jockey’s hand at the start.
“Kemboy is a forward-going horse and I think that will suit him as well. Depending on the ground – he probably likes goodish ground – it depends what the ground is like on the day, but he’s certainly better on good ground.
“Tornado Flyer won the King George but has been a little disappointing since.
“We felt this trip would suit him (three miles and one furlong), we’re not worried about the ground for him, he goes on any ground. Danny Mullins rides and he gets on very well with him.
“He has the ability if he fires on the day, but sometimes his spring form is not as good as his early form in the winter.”
Mullins also runs Instit in Saturday’s Prix d’Arles, a Listed four-year-old hurdle for fillies and mares.