Published 6th February
In an open-looking renewal of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup the prices justify a two-pronged approach and I’m hitching my wagon to a pair of Irish-trained second-season novices.
First up is AL BOUM PHOTO, who was booked for a place in last year’s RSA Chase when falling at the second-last, which admittedly leaves him with ground to make up on that race winner Presenting Percy.
The latter, a smooth winner over hurdles on his recent reappearance, looks the one to beat given his exemplary Festival record, having also landed the previous season’s Pertemps Final in impressive style.
However his odds are prohibitive from an ante-post perspective and I would rather try to dig out a bit of value at this stage.
What I like about Al Boum Photo is he showed no ill-effects from that spill, beating Shattered Love over 2m4f in a Grade 1 at Fairyhouse two and a half weeks later and was in the process of running a massive race back up in trip at Punchestown only to exit in bizarre circumstances at the final fence.
Officially he ran out after jockey Paul Townend steered him round the obstacle thinking it no longer needed to be jumped and the debate rages on as to whether he or the carried-out Finian’s Oscar would have prevailed.
Al Boum Photo looked to have improved again on last month’s reappearance at Tramore, giving 10lb and a decisive beating to stablemate Total Recall.
Either way it’s strong form and Al Boum Photo looked to have improved again on last month’s reappearance at Tramore, giving 10lb and a decisive beating to stablemate Total Recall, the 2017 Hennessy Gold Cup winner, with recent Thyestes Chase winner Invitation Only a fair way back in third.
Willie Mullins also has him in the Ryanair Chase so he’s not a guaranteed runner, but he was a late withdrawal (due to ground) from the Irish Gold Cup at the weekend and his pedigree offers plenty of encouragement he will thrive over 3m-plus.
The case for SHATTERED LOVE centres on her gambled-on romp in last year’s JLT Novices’ Chase, which confirmed her as a high-class mare on her day.
Previously successful in a Grade 1 novice over 3m at Leopardstown, she jumps and stays well and was probably feeling the effects of a long season when disappointing on her final start of the campaign at Punchestown.
Her first two runs this season were very encouraging, finishing second to Snow Falcon on disadvantageous terms at Down Royal and filling the same spot behind Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up Min at Punchestown, both over 2m4f.
She was conspicuously weak in the market when running no sort of race back up to 3m in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas - a performance I’m happy to write off given her overall profile and she remains a fascinating contender in receipt of the 7lb mares’ allowance.