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Paul Townend celebrates winning onboard Al Boum Photo to retain the Gold Cup. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Paul Townend celebrates winning onboard Al Boum Photo to retain the Gold Cup. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Winning the Gold Cup again was 'even better than last year' says Paul Townend

PAUL Townend was in dreamland after Al Boum Photo won back-to-back Gold Cups for Cork owner Joe Donnelly, as the Lisgoold rider rode a treble on the day.

It was one of those days at Cheltenham as Eugene and Maxine O’Sullivan combined with It Came To Pass to win the Foxhunters Chase.

Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Al Boum Photo dug in gamely to retain his Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup crown to deliver trainer Willie Mullins a fourth winner of the day at the festival, scoring by a neck as the well-backed 100-30 favourite.

Given an identical preparation to last season’s victory with a light campaign commencing at Tramore in January, Al Boum Photo tapped into his abundant reserves of stamina to fend off challengers from all corners.

There were plenty in with chances jumping the last and Santini provided the sternest opposition to Al Boum Photo in second.

Townend, completing a hat-trick on the day, said: “It’s amazing. I tell you I’d want some boot in the rear-end if I’d have been in front that early and been beaten by Santini.

“I thought I’d never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year.

Picture: Healy Racing
Picture: Healy Racing

“This is even better. It’s all about this. It’s all about this lad. It’s unreal.

“It’s a credit to Willie going to Tramore two years in a row and coming off one run,” he added

A delighted Mullins said: “It’s an unbelievable day. “That man there on the screen, Paul Townend, people said he was under pressure but Paul does his own thing. He probably rides a bit better under a little bit of pressure,” he said.

Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

“I’m delighted for Paul. It’s very difficult to take over from someone like Ruby Walsh and Paul’s come and stamped his authority on this season in Ireland and his riding for our yard.

“I’m really, really delighted for him.”