Winning trainer Willie Mullins expressed his 'relief' after dual Gold cup winner Al Boum Photo made a successful seasonal debut at Tramore once again on New Year's Day.
The Willie Mullins trained runner landed a hat-trick in the Grade 3 Savills New Years Day Chase, the same prep he has enjoyed en route to the last two Gold Cup wins at Cheltenham.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 1, 2021
Al Boum Photo was, as usual, ridden by Paul Townend and returned the long odds-on favourite at 2/9, stablemate Acapella Bourgeois was again second.
After the race, Mullins admitted “it's a big relief, it was nerve-wracking watching him going around there.
"He jumped very well and Paul said he was just so idle on his own in the middle of the race, he didn't even think he was in a race.
“He had to roust him up down the back but once he got racing he was fine. The lack of company was a bigger worry for Paul than anything else,” the trainer said.
“The ground is very, very testing out there. We are happy with his performance, he did what he was asked to do.
"We just hope now that he comes out of it sound and well and we will plan for the Festival. That's the first hurdle jumped anyway."
Al Boum Photo - 'Easier to go to Leopardstown'
Despite the success, Mullins admitted he had reservations about running in this lower grade race.
"Halfway around today I was thinking it would have been easier to go to Leopardstown because there would be less focus on him.
"When you come here you have to win and you have to win nicely and he did all those things.
"I usually like to do what has worked before and hopefully it will work again. A lot of ours are improving for their first run of the year and I'm expecting him to do the same."
Al Boum Photo will next look to repeat the feat of Best Mate and win a third consecutive Gold Cup at Cheltenham, for which he is a general 7/2 chance in the wake of today's performance.