Al Boum Photo in line for Gold Cup defence

Reigning champion Al Boum Photo is on course to defend his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown after the latest scratchings deadline.

Al Boum Photo, who won the Savills New Year’s Day Chase on his last outing, produced a fantastic performance to win Cheltenham’s showpiece race last year, handing trainer Willie Mullins his first victory in the blue riband event.

The eight-year-old will be aiming to become the first horse since Best Mate in 2004 to successfully defend the title and the gelding is one of 20 horses still in contention after the latest scratchings.

Mullins also has the option to give Kemboy – who got the better of his stablemate in the Punchestown Gold Cup last spring – a run in the race after the narrow defeat to Delta Work in the Irish Gold Cup on February 2.

Real Steel, who fell at Punchestown in June last time, is another the Irish handler could saddle at Prestbury Park, while Gordon Elliott’s leading contender is Delta Work, who was handed top weight alongside Tiger Roll for April’s Grand National on Tuesday.

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