Cheltenham Festival Day Four Review: Al Boum Photo The Star On Gold Cup Day
Al Boum Photo was the star of Cheltenham Gold Cup day as the 12/1 shot stormed up the hill to land the Gold Cup in sensational style and hand Willie Mullins his first victory in the Cheltenham Festival blue riband event.
As the likes of Presenting Percy, Clan Des Obeaux and Native River failed to land any sort of blow in the main event on Friday afternoon it was the smooth-travelling Al Boum Photo that stormed to the lead in the closing stages and a fine leap at the last sealed his victory. Anibale Fly stayed on best of the rest to pick up second at huge odds, while Bristol De Mai completed the placings on a day that saw Mullins finally win the showpiece race of the entire National Hunt extravaganza.
A sombre mood reverberated around Prestbury Park in the early part of the afternoon as the red-hot favourite Sir Erec suffered a fatal injury in the Triumph Hurdle in a race that was won by Nicky Henderson's Pentland Hills, who bagged the four-year-old Grade 1 in style, while Dan and Harry Skelton teamed up to win the County Hurdle for the third time in four years as Ch'tibello stormed to victory in that competitive handicap hurdle.
Rachael Blackmore claimed her second Cheltenham Festival success in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle as 50/1 outsider Minella Indo claimed that prize for Henry de Bromhead, while the Foxhunters' Chase went to the winning machine Hazel Hill at 4:10pm, who piloted by Alex Edwards produced a sparkling display of jumping to land the amateurs Gold Cup.
Bookmakers were celebrating once again in the penultimate race as 66/1 rag Croco Bay was a gallant winner of the Grand Annual, while the meeting concluded with Joseph O'Brien's Early Doors fending off Dallas Des Pictons in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.