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Photo opportunity: Gold Cup hero has final school at Navan before repeat bid

Al Boum Photo (Paul Townend, white cap) jumps a fence alongside Melon (Danny Mullins) in a schooling session after racing at Navan on Tuesday
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Al Boum Photo put the finishing touches to his Magners Gold Cup preparation after racing at Navan on Tuesday as he jumped a full circuit of fences under Paul Townend, with Willie Mullins expressing his satisfaction with the workout afterwards.

The 2019 Gold Cup winner has only been seen once this season, impressively landing the Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day, and Mullins was keen to give the eight-year-old some jumping practice ahead of the defence of his crown.

He schooled alongside fellow Gold Cup contender Kemboy (Patrick Mullins), while Melon (Danny Mullins) and Duc Des Genievres (Robbie Power) were also part of the same schooling session.

Mullins revealed that Marsh Novices’ Chase hopeful Melon wore cheekpieces and they had the desired effect.

The champion trainer said: "Kemboy and Al Boum Photo jumped very well. Duc Des Genievres and Melon went with them. We put cheekpieces on Melon and it sharpened up his jumping. We just went for a circuit, it wasn’t fast work or anything like that. It was just jumping that I wanted to get into them today.

"I was very happy with it all. They jumped a full circuit with the old rules. We didn’t miss out any fences due to low sun or anything like that!"

Paul Townend celebrates after victory in last season's Gold Cup on Al Boum Photo

Willie’s son Patrick was on board Kemboy and he said: "Kemboy felt good. He is very well in himself and everything was 100 per cent with him."

Mullins also sent a second group out to school and that trio contested of Allaho (Paul Townend), Carefully Selected (Patrick Mullins) and Billaway (Brian Hayes).

Mullins said: "Allaho went around leading Carefully Selected and Billaway. I was very happy with how they all jumped and galloped. At the moment my preferred option for Allaho is the RSA. I think the rest are all fairly obvious with Duc Des Genievres going for the Ryanair and Billaway the Foxhunters."

Carefully Selected will be Patrick Mullins’ ride in the National Hunt Chase, a race he is 2-1 favourite for, and he gave a positive report on his jumping, as well as offering some good news about Billaway.

Patrick Mullins said: "Carefully Selected went really well and I couldn’t have been happier with his jumping. Brian pulled up from Billaway with a big, huge smile on his face so I was certainly pleased to see that."

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We put cheekpieces on Melon and it sharpened up his jumping
E.W. Terms