Willie Mullins launches a three-pronged assault on the Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day.
The champion trainer has claimed this Listed prize four times in the last six years – most recently striking gold with Bachasson 12 months ago – and appears intent on adding to his tally.
Ruby Walsh partners Al Boum Photo, who struck Grade One glory in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday before dramatically exiting another top-level contest at the Punchestown Festival.
With Paul Townend heading to Fairyhouse, David Mullins takes the ride on Ladbrokes Trophy winner Total Recall, who fell in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before pulling up in the Grand National and the Punchestown Gold Cup in the spring.
Mullins’ third runner is Invitation Only, the mount of Brian Hayes.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “It looks a strong race – more like a Grade Two than a Listed race – but I suppose the ground is soft in Tramore, which suits these staying chasers.
“We run the three of them, as we’re getting into 2019 and we need to get these horses out.
“Al Boum Photo would probably be the pick of them on last season’s form. He’s a Grade One winner and we hope he could be a Gold Cup horse.
“The worry would be our horses that ran over Christmas that hadn’t had a run this season looked like they needed it. Our three Grade One winners in Leopardstown – Aramon, Kemboy and Sharjah – had all had a run.
“We want to see Total Recall jumping well as his jumping let him down at the end of last season. A good, clear round would be good for him.
“Invitation Only needs to improve.”
Alpha Des Obeaux leads a three-strong Gigginstown House Stud-owned contingent into battle.
Gordon Elliott’s inmate was runner-up to Kemboy in the Clonmel Oil Chase on his penultimate start before going one better in a Listed event at Thurles just a week later, beating fellow Gigginstown runner Valseur Lido.
Henry de Bromhead’s Valseur Lido is in the mix once more, along with stablemate Sub Lieutenant.
Liz Doyle’s Last Goodbye and David O’Brien’s Freeway Space complete the field.