Al Boum Photo enters frame late on to claim Gold
Al Boum Photo hit top gear late on to deny Shattered Love in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse yesterday.
The race garnered plenty of comment as only two trainers supplied all nine runners in the Grade One affair, with Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott dominating, and it was current champion Mullins who came out on top.
Elliott had a €500,000 advantage in the race to be champion trainer heading into the weekend, but Mullins, who clung on to his crown with a late surge last year, claimed both Grade Ones on a top-class afternoon, having already struck with Laurina.
Shattered Love, who had beaten the boys in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, was surrounded by three Mullins runners as they fanned into the straight, yet she was still travelling best of all for Jack Kennedy.
Hitting the front she appeared to have everything under control, with her 7lb mares' allowance set to be crucial.
However, 11/2 chance Al Boum Photo, a faller in the RSA Chase when Ruby Walsh aggravated his previously broken leg, really got going under David Mullins and in the end won going away by a length from the 13/8 favourite. Invitation Only was seven lengths back in third.
Mullins said: "He deserved that, as he was unlucky at Christmas. David gave him a great ride and kept a little bit up his sleeve.
"I think he wants a longer trip and that's why he was staying on at the end. I think the first four will all be three-mile chasers down the line."
When asked if he would be finished for the season, Mullins replied: "No. There will be very few finished for the year around our place. They will be heading to Punchestown, and I'd imagine it will be the same with a stable up the road (Elliott)!
"The mare (Shattered Love) was fantastic in defeat. She was up there battling it out with Up For Review, and then with Invitation Only. She then got done by the third one of ours."
Earlier, Laurina added to her Cheltenham Festival success by winning the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final to register the first Grade One victory of her career.
While the winning margin did not match her 18-length Cheltenham stroll, Paul Townend was able to sit motionless on the 2/11 favourite for much of the contest. The one moment of concern came about when her stablemate Redhotfillypeppers fell at the head of affairs and Laurina needed to be nimble on her feet to navigate the trouble.
Mullins said: "She was cantering everywhere and just seems to be a lot better than the rest at the moment.
"If all is well, we'll go on to Punchestown with her."
Meanwhile, in Cork, Sumos Novios got the better of Mala Beach for the father and son trainer-jockey combination of Liam and Jonathan Burke in the Grade Three Imperial Call Chase.
Trainer Burke senior said of his recent Wexford scorer: "He did everything right today. I could never run him like that before and it is only now that he is 10 years of age that he is taking his training properly.
"I'll run him in Punchestown if the weather lasts, but it needs to be safe for him to run."
Imaging could go down the Classic route after producing an impressive change of gear to make a successful start to the campaign under Declan McDonogh.
Ben Coen once again advertised his potential in the saddle by driving Our Anniversary home in the Follow Us On Twitter Apprentice Handicap at odds of 14/1, while Extrasensory sprung a 50/1 shock by winning the Like Us On Facebook Fillies Maiden.