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23 Jan 2022

Willie Mullins star likely to pave path to Cheltenham through Waterford again

Willie Mullins star likely to pave path to Cheltenham through Waterford again

Al Boum Photo

Willie Mullins' star staying chaser Al Boum Photo will miss his weekend engagements with the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner likely to begin his season at his usual first stop of Tramore after all.

Willie Mullins had intimated that he wanted to start him off earlier this season, as he will be turning 10 in a few weeks, and he held entries at Aintree and Punchestown.

However, he was not among the declarations for the Unibet Many Clouds Chase at Aintree and stablemate Allaho is the likely big gun heading to Punchestown for the John Durkan Memorial.

While Al Boum Photo is set to head to Tramore on New Year’s Day for the fourth successive year, Mullins is keen to give him a run between then and Cheltenham.

“He’s in great form. I could have declared him for Punchestown, but we have a lot of runners there,” Mullins said on Thursday.

“He’s ready to run, but I just thought going across to Aintree over three-mile-one against race-fit horses first time out was probably too much.

“He’ll probably have a gallop on Sunday rather than a race.

“He’ll probably go to Tramore. I’ll probably just gallop him at home and go to Tramore again and maybe I’d like to give him another run between Tramore and Cheltenham, we’ll see.

“I’m very happy with him at home and he worked well this morning.”

Paul Townend was on board for Al Boum Photo’s two Gold Cup wins but has been out of action since September with a dislocated shoulder.

However, a return is imminent.

Mullins said: “He’s back riding work, but I just felt we might wait another week or maybe start off at a midweek meeting, something like that.

“He’s nearly there. He’s riding work again but I felt, and he probably felt, there’s no point coming back unless he’s 100 per cent.”

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