Photo pleasing Mullins in Cheltenham Gold Cup prep

Defending champion following familiar route to Festival.

  • Wednesday 19 February
  • News
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Willie Mullins reports defending Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Al Boum Photo to have had a trouble-free preparation this season.

While the eight-year-old does not run too often, he has nevertheless won seven of 15 races, including the biggest prize of them all last March.

Mullins has followed the path which worked so well last season, by running only at Tramore on New Year’s Day prior to the Festival, and he hopes lightning can strike twice.

“We’ve had no trouble with him this season, so fingers crossed everything stays right between now and the Gold Cup,” he said.

“We will take him away somewhere to school – we were just discussing that this morning. We’ll take him wherever we can get in, just for a day away rather than a hard piece of work.

“I thought last year’s Gold Cup was very tough and I don’t think this year looks any tougher.

“He’s in great form anyway and I think his preparation will be good for him – he’s going there in good order and in a good frame of mind.

“I think he has a fantastic chance.”

Paul Townend was on board last year and Mullins expects the partnership to remain intact despite stablemate Kemboy beating the duo at Punchestown last term, when Ruby Walsh rode the winner.

“I would assume Paul is going to ride him again. The final bits of work will probably dictate that,” said Mullins.

“He’s won over the track and everything. If I was Paul, I’d find it very hard to get off him.”

Kemboy was a first-fence faller in the Gold Cup last year and Ireland’s champion trainer would prefer the ground to dry up for him.

“I don’t like it when a horse falls at a track, but hopefully he can put that behind him,” said Mullins.

“His two runs this year have been very good. He needed the run at Christmas and I thought his run the other day was fantastic.

“If he could be in the top three or four, I’d be delighted. I think drier ground would help him and he probably has a better chance of getting that on the last day of the Festival than earlier in the week.

“He stayed on well in Leopardstown. He stays well enough, but he has it all to do I think.”

David Mullins won the 2018 Savills Chase on Kemboy and rode him in the Gold Cup, but is still recuperating from a bad injury. Either way, it seems a Mullins will take the mount.

“David is back riding out. Danny could ride him, David could ride him – we’ve got a good selection of jockeys,” said Mullins, who finally landed the prize for the first time last year.

“At this stage I’m not too worried about jockeys. I just worry about getting the horses there and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Photo pleasing Mullins in Cheltenham Gold Cup prep

Cheltenham 15:30, 13 March 2020

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