When Al Boum Photo powered to victory in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Irish trainer Willie Mullins was allowed to celebrate his first win in the prestigious race. A relatively young horse at 8-year-old, last year’s winner will attempt a repeat performance and has been pleasing connections in his home gallops.
Al Boum Photo raced just once last season before beating Anibale Fly in the Gold Cup, and he has followed the same preparation this time. He claimed a comfortable victory in a 2m5f race at Tramore on New Year’s Day as per last season and as he is a proven course and distance winner, he could be difficult to beat at 7/2.
Among the opposition this season is the Nicky Henderson trained Santini who is disputing favouritism with the Mullins horse. After finishing second behind Topofthegame in last season’s RSA Chase, Santini narrowly won on his seasonal debut at Sandown before scoring in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham during January. That was decent form but he received 2lb in weight from Bristol De Mai who has never won on the racecourse.
The latter horse will probably feature again and will be helped by more rain, but one of the more dangerous challengers at 9/2 will be the improving Delta Work. Trained by Gordon Elliott in Ireland, he could finish only third in the RSA Chase and then was fourth of five runners on his seasonal debut at Down Royal.
Two Grade 1 victories later, he has positioned himself as a strong contender but he beat Kemboy by less than two lengths in his latest win. The latter horse was an early casualty last year at Cheltenham before winning Grade 1 contests at both Aintree and Punchestown where he beat Al Boum Photo in the Irish event.
Off-course issues delayed his seasonal reappearance and he was fourth at Leopardstown over Christmas. A much better effort at the Dublin Festival suggests he is returning to form but Kemboy has never won in three previous visits to Cheltenham in March.
Other horses worth considering include Clan Des Obeaux and LostIntranslation. The former gelding is a dual King George VI Chase winner at Kempton but could only finish fifth in last season’s Gold Cup. He may be more of a flat track specialist with no victories in five attempts at Cheltenham.
Trainer Colin Tizzard is confident regarding the hopes of LostIntranslation after losing his other main aspirant Native River due to injury. When running over 3m+ for the first time last season, the 8-year-old beat Topofthegame at Aintree after finishing second in the shorter JLT Novices’ Chase.
A couple of early wins this term was encouraging especially when beating course specialist Bristol De Mai at Haydock, but his latest effort was disappointing. He may have been feeling the effects of that Haydock display when pulling up in the ‘King George’. Now suitably refreshed, LostIntranslation should not be ignored at 6/1.