Dual Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo made a successful return to action on Friday with a fluent winning display to land his third consecutive Grade 3 Savills New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore.
Settled in third by Paul Townend as Djingle set a true gallop, Al Boum Photo took closer order approaching the 12th and after taking it up two out from stable-mate Acapella Bougeois, galloped clear under hands and heels to oblige at 2/9 and maintain the hot run of the Willie Mullins team.
I’m A Game Changer was the only other runner out of the five-strong field to complete.
“It was a different race to last year with the speed we went,” said Townend. “I suppose the loose horse [Brahma Bull, who departed at the second] taking Djingle on just made [jockey] Darragh [O’Keeffe] go a little bit faster than he wanted. It was a proper test today, he ground it out well and got the job done. He’s put plenty of daylight between himself and Acapella Bougeois at the line.
“He jumped very well today. It’s testing ground out there and the others were out on their feet but my lad went through the line – it’s a good sign, job done and the pressure is off now for a little while.”
Al Boum Photo was clipped into 7/2 in some places to make it a third victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
“He’s been there and done it twice, and I don’t think he’s done anything wrong today,” added Townend. “All roads now lead to Cheltenham.”
Don Poli retired
Connections have called time on the career of former Grade 1-winning chaser Don Poli.
The staying chaser won twice at the Cheltenham Festival when under the care of Willie Mullins, namely when carrying the Gigginstown House Stud colours to victory in the 2015 RSA Chase and 2014 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. He was also successful in the 2014 Grade 1 Topaz Novice Chase and 2015 Grade 1 Lexus Chase, both at Leopardstown, and also ran third in 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Don Cossack.
The son of Poliglote changed hands for £170,000 at the Goffs UK Aintree Sale in 2019 to trainer Phil Kirby on behalf of owner Darren Yates ahead of that year’s Grand National, in which he went on to run 19th. He again later moved yards, this time to Nick Pearce for a stint on the point-to-pointing circuit, where he won twice at Alnwick, and then to Dan Skelton, for whom he ran fourth in a veterans’ handicap chase at Aintree on his seasonal debut last October. He was last seen pulling up in a staying chase at Haydock in a performance that prompted his retirement.
In all, Don Poli won eight of 26 races under rules for more than £450,000 in prize-money.