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Will Al Boum Photo win a third Cheltenham Gold Cup? We assess his chances

Al Boum Photo: goes in search of a historic third Cheltenham Gold Cup victory on Friday
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Al Boum Photo bids to emulate Best Mate (2002-04) by landing three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups on Friday.

Can he do it? Here's an assessment of Friday's field for the Wellchild-sponsored event.


3.05 Cheltenham: WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup card and betting


THECHAMPION

Al Boum Photo

He'll become only the fifth horse to take the crown on more than two occasions if successful. He arrives on the back of a 2-9 Tramore victory on New Year's Day, and is clearly the one to beat once again. Although far from sexy on the eye, he's a ruthless achiever trained by a genius, and it will be a major surprise if he isn't bang in contention at the final fence.


THE CHALLENGERS

Champ

Owes his position as second-favourite to a Newbury comeback last month over a wholly inadequate two mileswhere he jumped cleanly and finished only two lengths behind Sceau Royal without being subject to a hard race. He left the impression a step up to nearly 3m3f would bring further improvement when pulling the RSA Chase out of the fire 12 months ago, and remains relatively unexposed over fences.

A Plus Tard

One gets the impression he is perhaps the quickest of all the Gold Cup aspirants– remember his close third to Min and Saint Calvados in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase over 2m4f last March– and his win in the 3m Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas is as good form as you can possibly get for the staying chase division. His strong-running display that afternoon suggested he would improve for the opportunity to tackle even further. He could prove an exceptional stayer.


Friday's free Cheltenham Festival tips:

Paul Kealy's Cheltenham banker on Friday

Cheltenham Friday tips: five horses to back on the final day of the festival

The Punt Daily: Tom Collins' free horse racing tips on day four of Cheltenham


Royale Pagaille

Has come from nowhere to 7-1 fourth-favourite for the Gold Cup in less than four months following wins at Haydock (twice) and Kempton. The manner of his win under top weight in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase suggests he can hold his own in this stronger company, and there are shades of 2015 Gold Cup hero Coneygree about him.

Minella Indo

His bubble has rather burst with two Leopardstown defeats this winter, but many people felt he was the most likely of the first three home in last year's RSA Chase– Champ and Allaho were the others– to win the 2021 Gold Cup. He could go close.


If you want more on the Gold Cup . . .

2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup: the runners, the odds, the verdict

Will Al Boum Photo win a third Cheltenham Gold Cup? We assess his chances

Can Al Boum Photo make Gold Cup history? Trainers and jockeys have their say


The rest

Santini's best chance for the ultimate in chasing glory may have been last year.

Native River would need deep mud to win, while a place is possibly the best Frodon can realistically hope for.


Verdict

A Plus Tard can prove himself an exceptional staying chaser by lowering the colours of Al Boum Photo in a Cheltenham cracker.


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Friday's race previews:

1.20 Cheltenham: Tom Collins breaks down a major match-up between Zanahiyr and Tritonic

1.55 Cheltenham: stick with Mullins and Skelton to solve puzzle in typically difficult handicap

2.30 Cheltenham: 'I'm sweet on him and he's a massive price' – focus on wide-open Albert Bartlett

3.05 Cheltenham: Al Boum Photo bids to join jumping legends as he chases historic hat-trick

3.40 Cheltenham: O'Sullivan confident It Came To Pass can successfully defend Cheltenham crown

4.15 Cheltenham: can Willie Mullins extend his superiority in mares' festival races to the chase?

4.50 Cheltenham: will switch of festival plan pay off for JP McManus and 'Ballymore horse'?


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He's a ruthless achiever trained by a genius, and it will be a major surprise if he isn't bang in contention at the final fence
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