We do not get to see the Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo too often and, in what is anticipated to be his only start before he goes for a hat-trick in the race, Willie Mullins sends him to Tramore for the Savills New Year’s Day Chase over two miles five furlongs.
Thus far the nine-year-old has preceded his two big Cheltenham wins with a victorious outing with his bucket and spade to the seaside town in County Waterford. He is rated 19lb better than Acapella Bourgeois, his stable companion and the nearest of his four rivals today.
“He’s in good shape,” said Mullins. “He likes the track and goes there in very good form. It is the first chase on the card on fresh ground so it should be perfect for him.”
He added: “He has plenty in his favour and the team (16 winners in the four days after Christmas) are in great form. I hope they can keep it up a bit longer.”
At Punchestown, where it was snowing on Thursday, Niall ‘Slippers’ Madden, son of ‘Boots’ Madden and brother of ‘Socks’, who sprung to fame when he won the 2006 Grand National on the Martin Brassil trained Numbersixvalverde, has announced his retirement.
Madden, 35, rode nearly 400 winners and after finishing 11th on Rich Relief said: “This is my local track. I had my first ride here so it was great to start and finish my career at Punchestown.
“Winning the Grand National on Numbersixvalverde was obviously the major highlight and to ride two Grade One winners – on Jazz Messenger and Nickname – was huge as well. I’ve had fantastic support. I’m just delighted to be able to walk out on my own terms.”
The BHA’s independent disciplinary panel partially upheld the appeal on Thursday of Gavin Sheehan and Warren Greatrex over the running and riding of Beaufort a Newbury before Christmas. Sheehan’s 14 day suspension was reduce d to seven while Greatrex’s £3000 fine was quashed.
Meanwhile Paul Nicholls, who had made it his aim to win 100 races this season before the old year was out – a feat he has only achieved once – finally got there by winning the last race of 2020 to clock up the century when Shearer, an 8-13 shot, won the bumper at Warwick by nine lengths.
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