The feature race in Ireland on Wednesday is the extended 2m 5f Grade 3 Savills New Year’s Day Chase (14:20), and Al Boum Photo appeals for back-to-back renewals.
This race was curiously effective prep for the Cheltenham Gold Cup as the Willie Mullins trained eight-year-old led home a 1-2-3 for the Closutton handler here.
Al Boum Photo led from five out and had an extended advantage at the third last on this tight right-handed track.
He then kept on well to score by six lengths from previous Ladbrokes Trophy winner Total Recall.
Mullins went straight to the Cheltenham Festival and his long way for Gold Cup glory ended thanks to this Buck’s Boum gelding.
After being held-up in the early stages, Al Boum Photo improved on the second circuit and was then produced to lead turning for home.
He stayed on strongly from the last to beat Anibale Fly, who was third in the previous Cheltenham Gold Cup, by 2 1/2 lengths.
That form is head and shoulders above anything else in the four-runner New Year’s Day Chase line-up.
Al Boum Photo can again advertise his Gold Cup claims by landing this again. Off a top official rating of 175, he has 5lbs and upwards in hand on the field off these terms.
After just nine chase starts, Al Boum Photo is also open to some more progress over fences.
Mullins stable jockey Paul Townend is operating at an almost 20 per cent strike rate in the saddle in the last 14 days at the time of writing.
Taking all that into account, Al Boum Photo cannot be opposed for consecutive triumphs in this race. Odds of 4/7 with BetVictor reflect his strong claims here.
Shattered Love and Voix Du Reve vying for New Year’s Day Chase second
Gordon Elliott trained mare Shattered Love gets a whopping 18lb from the favourite, but ran no sort of race when trailing in behind him in the Gold Cup.
This intermediate trip may be more to the Gigginstown House Stud owned daughter of Yeats’ liking, however.
Shattered Love is now 9lb better off from Cheltenham with Al Boum Photo and has bolted up against her own sex in a Listed contest at Clonmel this season.
She did not follow-up on resuming winning ways in the John Durkan at Punchestown last month, however.
Shattered Love made Min work to score by a length in that Grade 1 in 2018, but finished seventh in this year’s renewal – behind Voix Du Reve who re-opposes.
However, she meets that one off 9lb better terms here.
Off bottom-weight, Shattered Love cannot be discounted from chasing home Al Boum Photo as she did in the 2018 Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse at 7/2 with Paddy Power here.
Voix Du Reve also has Grade 1 winning form to his name, so could also have a hand in the New Year’s Day Chase finish.
The Mullins second string behind Al Boum Photo, this eight-year-old scored in the Grade 2 Craddockstown at Punchestown on just second start over fences last season.
He then followed in the hoofprints of the favourite by landing the Ryanair Gold Cup at Easter.
Voix Du Reve ran out 5 1/2 lengths too good for subsequent dual scorer Real Steal, but the runner-up then reversed form in the John Durkan.
This is less competitive, however, and Voix Du Reve is 11/2 with Betfair to bounce back.
Acapella Bourgeois completes the field, but appeals least despite the booking of in-form jockey Rachael Blackmore.