Horse Racing – Cheltenham Festival – Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Britain – March 15, 2019 Paul Townend celebrates with Al Boum Photo after winning the 3.30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
CHELTENHAM, England (Reuters) – Al Boum Photo, ridden by Paul Townend, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday to give trainer Willie Mullins his first victory in the flagship race.
The 12-1 shot beat Anibale Fly and Bristol De Mai as favorite Presenting Percy had a disappointing run.
“It feels great,” Mullins, who had trained six runners-up in the race, told ITV Sport.
“It’s good to get the Gold Cup finally, three of my other four runners were out before the circuit finished. But Al Boum Photo looked so relaxed and I knew he could jump.
“I come here every year and start afresh, but I didn’t think I would have a good Cheltenham with how the winter had gone.”
Earlier, 20-1 shot Pentland Hills won the Triumph Hurdle but the race was overshadowed by the death of favorite Sir Erec who had to be put down following a serious injury sustained after going over a fence.
“There was no reason we could have predicted that injury,” David Sykes, the director of Equine Health and Welfare at the British Horseracing Authority, told ITV.
“Beforehand, when he was checked, the vets reported he moved well and had no indication of lameness or injuries. We are never going to stop those sort of catastrophic injuries.”
Sir Erec was the second horse to die at the four-day festival after Mullins-trained Ballyward was fatally injured on Tuesday.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond