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Al Boum Photo ‘in great shape’ as Gold Cup hat-trick bid looms

Willie Mullins is planning a “big bit of work” for Al Boum Photo this week as the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner continues preparations for his hat-trick bid.

The nine-year-old will attempt to join Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate as a three-time winner of the blue riband, with Golden Miller the most successful in the history of the race thanks to his five victories.

Al Boum Photo will head to Cheltenham on March 19 with just one start under his belt this season, having won the Savills New Year’s Day Chase on his January return – the same route Mullins plotted for his previous victories in the Festival showpiece, which this year will be run as the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The trainer admits he did not expect Al Boum Photo to be a staying star following a novice-chase campaign back in 2018 which included a fall at the Festival and a dramatic run-out at Punchestown.

Al Boum Photo and jockey Paul Roule on the gallops on Monday morning
Al Boum Photo and jockey Paul Roule on the gallops on Monday morning (Niall Carson/PA)

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Mullins said: “He’s in great shape. He worked well last week and he’s a big bit of work coming up this week.

“He’s uncomplicated, he’s very nice to train.

“I didn’t think when we were buying him we’d be in this position, or indeed the day that he ran out in Punchestown, or when he had the mishap with Ruby (Walsh) jumping the last at Cheltenham.

“He’s got a funny back history – but here he is, a double Gold Cup winner going for his third. We’re very privileged to have him.”

Champ returned to action at Newbury on Sunday
Champ returned to action at Newbury on Sunday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

While Mullins has plenty of faith in Al Boum Photo, he is alive to the threat posed by Savills Chase winner A Plus Tard – and last year’s top three-mile novice Champ.

A Plus Tard had Mullins’ Kemboy back in second at Leopardstown over Christmas – while Nicky Henderson’s Champ impressed many when second, dropped down to two miles in Sunday’s Game Spirit Chase at Newbury.

Mullins said: “I think you have to (take Champ and A Plus Tard seriously). Both are stayers, A Plus Tard is bred to stay; Champ proved that he stays all day last year, and he put in a huge performance yesterday. The two of them have put in huge performances as their prep runs.”

Willie Mullins Stable Visit
Kemboy and jockey Ruth Dudfield following a Monday morning exercise (Niall Carson/PA)

Kemboy went on to win the Irish Gold Cup this month, with stablemate Melon a well-beaten fifth. The pair are among five entries for Mullins at this stage, although neither is certain to run – with Kemboy given an alternative option in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle as well as, like Melon, the Ryanair Chase.

The Closutton trainer added: “Kemboy is there – we haven’t decided or spoken to connections yet – and Melon is there. Looking at the replay last night, we think possibly should he (Melon) go for the Ryanair? But then we are well represented in the Ryanair, so we will see.

“I’ll have to have a word with connections about where we go. There’s no hard-and-fast rules made at this stage. There’s a few bits of work to do, and who knows what’s going to happen?”

2021 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY FOUR (Fri 19th March 2021)

2021 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY FOUR (Fri 19th March 2021)

Each day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival for you!

Onto 'DAY FOUR' and it's Gold Cup Day - did you know, all of the last 18 Gold Cup winners were aged 9 or younger?

 


Friday 19th March 2021 (New Course)

Cheltenham Festival Trends

 

 1.30 - JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y ITV

2020 Winner: BURNING VICTORY 12/1
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend

Pluses…..

  • 21 of the last 27 winners won last time out
  • 8 of the last 12 winners were unbeaten over hurdles
  • Irish have won 5 of the last 8 runnings
  • French-breds have filled 10 of the last 16 places (last 6 runnings)
  • 11 of the last 16 came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 10 of the last 13 winners returned 13/2 or shorter in the betting
  • Respect Henderson (7 winners), Nicholls, Hobbs and King-trained runners
  • 7 of the last 17 first ran over hurdles by November (5 of the last 8 by mid-Nov)
  • 10 of the last 15 winners returned 13/2 or shorter
  • The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is a good guide
  • 9 of the last 11 winners ran in the Finesse, Adonis or Spring Juvenile Hurdles last time
  • 7 of the last 12 winners had run in France before
  • Nicky Henderson has trained 7 winners of the race
  • Gordon Elliott has had 2 wins and 2 seconds in the last 7 years

Negatives….

  • Take on horses that have won at 2m2f or further in the past
  • Avoid horses that last ran 56 days or longer ago
  • Avoid horses that had run 3 or more times over hurdles
  • Be careful of horses rated 138 or lower – no winner in the last 12
  • Willie Mullins has fairly poor record despite winning the 2020 race – currently 1-from-29

 

  2.10 - McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 179y ITV

 

2020 Winner: SAINT ROI 11/2 fav
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Barry Geraghty

Pluses….

  • The Irish have won 9 of the last 14 runnings
  • 4 of the last 13 winners ran in that season’s Coral.ie Hurdle (Leopardsotwn)
  • 14 of the last 15 winners were rated in the 130’s
  • 7 of the last 13 winners returned 20/1 or bigger
  • 6 of the last 12 winners had run in 6 or less hurdles races
  • 11 of the last 15 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • 12 of the last 15 winners were priced in double-figures
  • 13 of the last 17 winners began their careers on the flat
  • Look for Mullins, Martins & Nicholls-trained runners
  • Respect the Imperial Cup (Sandown Park) winner
  • 9 winners since 2002 ran in the Ladbrokes or Betfair Hurdles that season
  • 11 of the last 20 winners came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 14 of the last 17 winners were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
  • 11 of the last 14 winners DIDN’T win last time out
  • Paul Nicholls is 4 from 30 (+16pts)
  • Willie Mullins is 4 from 38 (+47.5pts)
  • Trainer Dan Skelton has trained 3 of the last 5 renewals (2 of last 3)
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Negatives….

  • Strangely, previous course winners have a bad record
  • Since 1960 only 5 winners carried more than 11st 2lb
  • Since 1961, only 9 winners had run at the Festival before
  • Since 2005, just one winner rated 140+ (158 runners)
  • Avoid runners that hadn’t raced at least 4 times that season
  • Avoid horses making their handicap debuts, although last year’s winner defied this trend

 

 2.50 - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y ITV

2020 Winner: MONKFISH 5/1
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend

Pluses….

  • 9 of the last 16 winners had run at Cheltenham over hurdles before
  • 14 of the last 16 winners contested a Graded Hurdle last time out
  • 15 of the last 16 winners won or placed in a Graded Novice before
  • 6 of the last 9 winners had won a Point
  • 9 of the last 16 came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 10 of the last 16 winner ran 47 days (or more) ago
  • 14 of the last 16 had run in a race over 3m
  • 13 of the last 16 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • 13 of the last 16 winners were 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 11 of the last 16 winners had 4+ runs over hurdles
  • 14 of the last 15 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 4 of the last 15 favourites won
  • Respect Jonjo O’Neill runners (2 wins)
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has won 2 of the last 4 runnings

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in the last 23 days haven’t fared well
  • Avoid horses that DIDN’T finish 1st or 2nd last time out
  • Be wary of horses that have raced less than 3 times over hurdles
  • Willie Mullins is 2 from 38 in the race, but has won 2 of the last 4
  • 5 year-olds have a poor record
  • Only 4 of the last 16 winners hadn’t raced that calendar year

 

3.30 - WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y ITV

 

2020 Winner: AL BOUM PHOTO (12/1)
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend

Pluses….

  • 17 of the last 21 winners ran in the Savills Chase or King George that season
  • 18 of the last 20 finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 18 of the last 21 winners were 2nd or 3rd season chasers
  • 10 of the last 15 winners had run 9 or less times over fences
  • All of the last 21 winners were Grade 1 winners
  • 16 of the last 20 had won or placed at the Festival before
  • 17 of the last 20 winners hailed from the top 3 in the betting
  • 19 of the last 20 winners had raced no more than 12 times over fences
  • 12 of the last 13 winners ran 3 or less times that season
  • 16 of the last 24 winners were bred in Ireland
  • 12 of the last 15 winners won last time out
  • 6 of the last 15 favourites won
  • ALL of the last 21 winners were aged 9 or younger
  • Horses placed in a previous Supreme Novices’ Hurdle have a good record

 

Negatives….

  • Non-Grade One winners have a poor record
  • No winner older than 10 years-old since 1969 (0 from 71)
  • Horses rated 166 or less are only 5 from last 34
  • Avoid horses that had run on ‘heavy’ ground that season
  • Horses wearing headgear have a bad recent record
  • Willie Mullins has only won the race twice (2020, 2019), 2 from 33 (had 4 of the last 8 seconds and the 2019 & 2020 winner though)
  • Only 2 winners since 2000 returned 9/1 or bigger
  • Just 1 of the last 13 winners had raced more than 3 times that season
  • Horses that were beaten in their first Gold Cup don’t fare well

 

Cheltenham Gold Cup Betting Trends

18/18 – Aged 9 or younger
17/18 – Had raced within the last 3 months
16/18 – Had run over fences at Cheltenham before
16/18 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
15/18 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
15/18 – Had won over at least 3m (chase) before
14/18 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or more
14/18 – Won last time out
12/18 – Placed favourites
11/18 – Had won 5 or more times over fences in the UK or Ire before
11/18 – Rated 170 or higher
10/18 – Irish bred
9/18 – Winning favourites
8/18 – Had last raced in the previous calendar year
8/18 – Had won over fences at Cheltenham before
7/18 – Irish-trained winners
5/18 – Last race was in the King George VI Chase (Kempton)
4/18 – Won the Denman Chase (Newbury) last time out
3/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/18 – Ran in the Lexus Chase last time out
2/18 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
The average winning SP in the last 18 renewals is 11/2

Other Cheltenham Gold Cup Stats

Only one horse (Kauto Star 2009) has ever regained the race
26 of the last 27 winners have been aged 9 or younger
9 of the last 19 winners came here fresh – did not race that same calendar year
17 of the last 20 winners were rated 166 or higher
20 of the last 22 winners had won a race already that current season
14 of the last 20 winners had finished second or better at the Cheltenham Festival before
11 of the last 21 winners had run in that season’s King George VI Chase (Kempton)
All of the previous 21 winners had won a Grade One Chase contest before
The last winner aged older than 10 was in 1969 (What a Myth, 12)

 

Cheltenham Gold Cup – UK v Irish

 

16/23 – British-trained winners
7/23 – Irish-trained winners (3 of last 5 though)
Willie Mullins (Ire) has trained just two winners
Nicky Henderson (UK) has trained 2 of the last 9 winners
Paul Nicholls (UK) has trained 3 of the last 13 winners (4 in total)

4.10 - St James's Place Foxhunter Chase 3m 2f 70y ITV

 

2020 Winner: IT CAME TO PASS 66/1
Trainer – Eugene O’Sullivan
Jockey – Miss M O’Sullivan

Pluses…..

  • 26 of the last 30 winners were aged under 11 years-old
  • 25 of the last 35 won last time out
  • 6 of the last 11 winners finished in the top 5 in the race last year
  • 8 of the last 12 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
  • 28 of the last 32 started out in point-to-point races
  • 11 of the last 15 winners ran 34 days or less ago
  • Respect the Irish runners (won 7 of last 10)
  • 5 of the last 9 winners ran in the Leopardstown Inn Hunters’ Chase
  • 10 of the last 15 winners were aged 8-10 years-old
  • 8 of the last 12 winners returned 15/2 or shorter
  • 11 of the last 13 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 9 of the last 11 winners rated 134 or higher (6 of last 8, rated 138+)

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in a handicap race that season haven’t got a good record
  • Avoid horses that hadn’t won a race under rules
  • Just 2 winners in the last 44 years aged 12 or older
  • 27 of the last 29 horses aged 11+ (priced in single figures) have lost – but the 2019 winner – Hazel Hill – defied this trend
  • Avoid ex-handicappers rated 140+ in their careers
  • Avoid horses that raced 35 days or longer ago
  • Just 2 winners since 2000 hadn’t run within the last 53 days
  • Horses aged 11+ are just 5 from 245 since 1990
  • Just 4 winners since 2000 didn’t finish in the top 3 last time out

 

 4.50 - Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase 2m 4f 127yds ITV

New Race – No Key Trends

 

5.30 - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (0-145) 2m 4f 56y RTV

 

2020 Winner: INDEFATIGABLE 25/1
Trainer – Paul Webber
Jockey – Rex Dingle  

Pluses….

  • 11 of the last 12 winners were 2nd season-hurdlers
  • 9 of the last 10 winners placed in the top 3 last time
  • All of the last 12 winners carried 11-1 or more
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had 8 or less runs over hurdles
  • 4 of the last 7 winners were Irish-based Novices
  • Irish have won 6 of the last 10 (5 making handicap debuts)
  • 35 of the 37 win and place horses were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
  • Look for Henderson, Nicholls, Mullins, Elliot-trained horses
  • 10 of the 12 winners were placed in the top 4 last time out
  • 6 of the 12 winners won last time out
  • 6 of the last 7 winners had run over a longer trip that season
  • 7 of the 12 winners were rated 133-139
  • 8 of the 12 winners returned at a double-figure price (9 of the last 12 were 16/1 or less)
  • 5 and 6 year-old have won 10 of last 12 runnings
  • Look for jockeys that have ridden 20+ winners
  • Willie Mullins is 3 from 19 runners in the race (won 3 of the last 10 runnings)
  • Respect any Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners (4 winners, 5 places)
  • Paul Nicholls has won the race twice in the last 8 years
  • Gordon Elliott has won 2 of the last 4 runnings

Negatives….

  • Despite being named after his father the David Pipe stable has a poor record so far (0 from 20, inc 3 favs)
  • Just 1 winning fav in the 12-year history (8/11 returned in double-figures)
  • Horses in headgear are currently 1 from 59
  • Only 4 winners have previous Festival experience
  • Horses with 11st or less are currently 0-from-89

Al Boum Photo headlines Gold Cup contenders

Dual winner Al Boum Photo heads 41 entries for this year’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old enjoyed his usual preparation recently with a straightforward victory at Tramore and will head straight to Prestbury Park in his bid to emulate the likes of Arkle, Best Mate and Golden Miller as a three-time winner of the blue-riband event.

Mullins has a host of other contenders for the showpiece event on March 19, including Kemboy, Melon and Allaho, who were second, third and fourth respectively in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

The winner of that race was Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard, already a Cheltenham Festival winner in the past and who was placed in the Ryanair last year.

However, the betting indicates at the moment De Bromhead has an even better chance with Minella Indo, who was caught close home in the RSA Chase last season but was an early faller in the Savills Chase.

It was Nicky Henderson’s Champ who flew up the hill to catch him in the RSA and although he has not run since, he remains one of the leading contenders for the Gold Cup.

Champ flew up the hill in the RSA to catch Minella Indo and Allaho
Champ flew up the hill in the RSA to catch Minella Indo and Allaho (Andrew Matthews/PA)
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Henderson also has last year’s narrow runner-up Santini, winless in two outings so far this season, while Gordon Elliott is keen to get another run into Delta Work, Samcro and Presenting Percy after they failed to trouble the judge over Christmas.

Frodon booked his spot in the Gold Cup when making all the running in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day under Bryony Frost and has been entered by Paul Nicholls along with Cyrname and Real Steel.

Waiting Patiently ran a fine race for North Yorkshire trainer Ruth Jefferson at Kempton to chase Frodon home, on what was his first racecourse appearance in over a year.

Outlining options for her stable star, Jefferson said: “Waiting Patiently is very well at home and has come out of the King George absolutely bouncing.

“We have decided to enter him in all of the possible targets at the Cheltenham Festival just to keep our options open – at least for now. The Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup are all championship races and it just makes sense at this stage to keep him in all three.

Waiting Patiently will have plenty of options at Cheltenham
Waiting Patiently will have plenty of options at Cheltenham (Julian Herbert/PA)

“We still don’t know how far he will be dropped back down in trip so the Champion Chase comes into the equation and he has got an entry for that.

“The Ryanair Chase is obviously another race to consider, whilst the Gold Cup, given these uncertain times, could be an interesting race.

“With so much going on, entering in all three races just keeps our options open and then we’re not tied down about having to go for one particular race.

“He will probably run again before Cheltenham, but where we go is something we are still discussing. The Ascot Chase was originally the race I had pencilled him in for, but I don’t know whether that will then be too close to Cheltenham and it therefore becomes difficult to run in both.

“With that in mind, I am not sure where we will go next at the moment, but I would like to get another run into him before Cheltenham.”

Bristol De Mai won his third Betfair Chase in November and may have another crack at a race in which he finished third in 2019 before possibly heading for the Grand National.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: “Bristol De Mai is fine, he has just been ticking over since Haydock so he is fresh and well.

“He didn’t win this Betfair Chase by as far as his others, but it was a very classy field he beat and he did it well.

“I don’t know whether he goes to the Cotswold Chase. He could go there or wait. It’s a bit up in the air.

“I would like to look at the Gold Cup, but if all the others turn up we might side-step it and go for the National.

“He was third in it (Gold Cup) before and he is right up there on ratings. He has been to the Gold Cup a few times, but has not won it yet. If he goes there hopefully he can prove them all wrong this year.”

Saint Calvados, Lostintranslation, Native River and Imperial Aura and among a host of other interesting possibles.

Mullins more than happy with Al Boum Photo after Tramore return

Willie Mullins reports dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo to have come out of his traditional season-opener at Tramore in great heart.

The nine-year-old will be bidding to join an elite list of National Hunt greats in March, with Golden Miller (five times), Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate the only horses to have won the blue riband more than twice.

Minutes after he crossed the line on New Year’s Day, Mullins was rather nonplussed with the performance and briefly contemplated another run before March – but on reflection he feels the run was better than it appeared.

“He seems great after his run,” said Mullins, speaking at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

“I think the longer break, with not going to Punchestown, he was a bit more ring-rusty than we expected.

“The first two miles of the race were run at two-mile pace with Djingle cutting out a fast pace.

“When we put it all together I was much happier when I analysed it at home than I was leaving the racetrack.

“He didn’t stop going through the line. He just idled mid-race when he had no company around him. Danny (Mullins) was way ahead on Acapella Bourgeois.

“He just idled, but once he got close to him around the home turn, to beat a 150 horse 19 lengths could be as good as any performance over Christmas.”

Al Boum Photo claims Tramore hat-trick on seasonal bow

All roads lead back to Cheltenham in March for Al Boum Photo after the dual Gold Cup hero registered a third successive victory in the Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore.

The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old lined up for the extended two-mile-five-furlong contest almost by accident two years ago, after sidestepping the Savills Chase at Leopardstown and subsequently the Irish Gold Cup on account of unsuitably fast ground.

With Al Boum Photo finally ending his trainer’s long wait for a Gold Cup winner in the Cotswolds a couple months later, Mullins followed the same route again last season, and his charge again produced the goods on the biggest stage of all.

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Making his first competitive appearance since his latest triumph in the blue riband last March, Paul Townend’s mount appeared to face a relatively straightforward task, with just four inferior rivals in opposition.

Djingle set a sound gallop from flag-fall, before giving best with a circuit to run, after which last year’s runner-up Acapella Bourgeois and his stable companion Al Boum Photo were the only two that counted.

Townend never looked entirely happy in the saddle aboard the 2-9 favourite, but he took over the lead from his tiring stablemate rounding the home turn and ultimately passed the post 19 with lengths in hand.

Paddy Power make Al Boum Photo the 100-30 favourite from 9-2 to become the first triple Gold Cup winner since Best Mate – and Mullins confirmed his intention to once again head to Prestbury Park without another run.

He said: “It’s a big relief. It was nerve-wracking watching him going around there. The sun was a worry and it probably cost Brahma Bull (unseated rider at second fence).

“He jumped very well and Paul said he was just so idle on his own in the middle of the race, he didn’t even think he was in race. He had to roust him up down the back, but once he got racing he was fine. Lack of company was a bigger worry for Paul than anything else.

“The ground is very, very testing out there. We are happy with his performance, he did what he was asked to do. We just hope now that he comes out of it sound and well and we will plan for the Festival. That’s the first hurdle jumped anyway.

“Halfway around today I was thinking it would have been easier to go to Leopardstown because there would be less focus on him. When you come here, you have to win and you have to win nicely and he did all those things.

“I usually like to do what has worked before and hopefully it will work again. A lot of ours are improving for their first run of the year and I’m expecting him to do the same.”

Al Boum all set for Tramore hat-trick bid

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.

Acapella Bourgeois also represents Mullins
Acapella Bourgeois also represents Mullins (Niall Carson/PA)

“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.

Al Boum Photo faces four in Tramore hat-trick bid

Al Boum Photo will face four rivals as he bids to win the Savills New Year’s Day Chase for the third year running at Tramore.

Willie Mullins’ dual Gold Cup winner has taken this Grade Three prize over two miles five and a half furlongs on his way to Cheltenham glory for the past two seasons.

He has not been in action since retaining his crown in March, and jockey Paul Townend is looking forward to getting back on board his Gold Cup partner at this familiar staging post.

“I suppose it’s tried and tested now, so why change it? At that time of year you’re guaranteed a bit of safe ground down there,” said Townend.

“It’s worked the last two years, and we’d be hoping it works a third time.

“If it’s working, why change it? He was pulled out of Leopardstown (two seasons ago) because of the ground and he went down to Tramore, and it suited.

“The race was there, and he got his ground. It was fine and it suited me he went to the Gold Cup under the radar.

“There was a little more pressure last year – but it’s working, and please God it will come off again.”

Among the opposition is Acapella Bourgeois, who was the six-length runner-up to his stable companion in this race last winter.

Mullins has a third string in Brahma Bull – while John Queally’s Djingle and I’m A Game Changer, from Andrew McNamara’s stable, complete the quintet.