Cheltenham day four tips: Al Boum Photo bids for history-making third Gold Cup
History could be in the making today as Al Boum Photo bids to join a select group of jumping greats to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times.
Only Best Mate, Arkle, Golden Miller and Cottage Rake have won the race three or more times.
Winning the race for the third year in a row has been the entire focus of Al Boum Photo’s preparation since last March.
He has been seen just once, winning at Tramore, to ensure he arrives at Cheltenham in the best possible shape.
There should be plenty of other highlights on a card that also includes the Triumph Hurdle, Albert Bartlett, a Hunters in which professionals will be riding and the first running of the Mares’ Novices Chase.
But at 15:05 a million plus TV viewers will be gathered in front of the small screen to see if Al Boum Photo can join jump racing’s hall of fame.
Of a seven race card, six will be shown live by ITV Racing and we’ve previewed the three most significant races of the day in our Cheltenham tips.
A high quality renewal of the four-year-old championship race with Zanahiyr, Tritonic and Quilixios defending unbeaten records and a fourth horse, Haut En Couleurs, who makes his debut for Willie Mullins after winning in France, a move that suggests he could be out of the ordinary as well.
Zanahiyr sets the standard, winning three times for jumping’s newest big-spending owners Noel and Valerie Moran.
But his former stablemate Quilixios, now with Henry de Bromhead, could be the one to be on. His comfortable defeat of Saint Sam in a Grade 1 at the Dublin Racing Festival now looks good after the runner-up ran second in the Boodles on day one.
British horses have had very little say in the destiny of the Festival’s Grade 1 prizes this week but they have a chance to change the narrative in this three mile contest.
Irish horses Stattler, Fakiera and Torygraph lead the betting but Barbados Buck’s, from the family of Big Buck’s, and Alaphilippe represent a strong British challenge along with Threeunderthrufive and Adrimel who are unbeaten over hurdles.
Adrimel looks strong having taken his record to three out of three over jumps with a narrow victory in a Grade 2 at Warwick last time. He suffered his only defeat in last year’s Bumper and he ran so poorly there must have been something amiss.
He is taking a step up in distance here, a move that looks bound to suit him, and he should go well at double figure odds.
After the negative publicity that followed the end of last year’s Festival and in the build-up to this one, racing has been keen to present a positive image this year, with Rachael Blackmore and Tiger Roll putting the sport on the front pages for the right reasons.
Al Boum Photo can make it a fantastic week with a third victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There will be no shortage of goodwill behind his challenge under Paul Townend.
Al Boum Photo has only been sighted on the track once since last year’s success as Willie Mullins set out to use a tried and tested template to get him back to Cheltenham in the best possible shape. By all accounts everything has gone smoothly.
A Plus Tard, Champ and Royale Pagaille present new challenges this time but chances to win three Gold Cups come round so rarely that only a killjoy would want to deny Al Boum Photo another Al Boum Photo opportunity.
ITV Racing Schedule, Friday 19th March
13:20 Cheltenham – Triumph Hurdle
13:55 Cheltenham – County Hurdle
14:30 Cheltenham – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
15:05 Cheltenham – Cheltenham Gold Cup
15:40 Cheltenham – Hunters’ Chase
16:15 Cheltenham – Mares’ Chase
16:50 Cheltenham – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.