Photo aims to lower the Boum for Mullins
There are not many big races run over the Christmas period in Ireland that Willie Mullins does not have a good record in, and he will be bidding to continue his fine run in the feature Grade 2 novice chase (2.10) at Limerick.
Al Boum Photo, a most impressive winner of a beginners' chase at Navan last month, leads the attack for Mullins, who is chasing his sixth win since 2008 in the race.
Indeed, this contest has been a handy launch pad for subsequent Grade 1 performers in recent times.
Sir Des Champs ran out a good winner for the stable in 2011 before going on to win the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, while Enda Bolger's Gilgamboa, who won this in 2014, also went on to win a Grade 1.
Mullins, whose latest wins in the race were achieved with Bellshill and Outlander, said: "Al Boum Photo is a stayer and he will like the ground and the trip."
The master of Closutton is also represented by Arbre De Vie, who will be partnered for the first time by French jockey Alexis Poirier.
He added: "Arbre De Vie has loads of experience, but, realistically, we're just hoping he'll run into the first three. Alexis takes the ride on him. He is based with Alain Couetil, a trainer in France who we have bought many horses off in the past.
"He has been getting some experience in Ireland and has been with us for the past few months."
Gordon Elliott has never managed to land a winner in this 2m 3f race down through the years, but he looks nicely represented by Tombstone and Dounikos.
Speaking about the Gigginstown-owned chasers, Elliott said: "Tombstone and Dounikos are both in good form. They will love the testing ground and the trip should be fine for them, but it does look a very competitive race."
Gigginstown are also represented by the Mouse Morris-trained four-year-old Tout Est Permis, who will be partnered by Rachael Blackmore. Denis Hogan's Inis Meain completes the field.
Blackmore will be reunited with Ex Patriot, last season's Triumph Hurdle fourth, in the 2m4f hurdle (1.05) earlier on the card.
His trainer Ellmarie Holden is confident that the four-year-old is back in top form and is hopeful of a good performance from her stable star.
She said: "We've had this race in mind for a while and we're very hopeful of a nice run from him.
"The trip, ground and track should all be fine for him and we've freshened him up for this. He's run some big races for us this year and he is in form again."
Paul Nolan has upwards of 10 horses to run throughout the Christmas period and is hopeful that Discorama, who claimed the scalp of Blow By Blow in a maiden hurdle earlier this month, can make his presence felt in the same race.
He said: "Hopefully, he seems a nice horse and if he settles he should have a nice chance."