Meet the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner with built-in ‘carrot radar’ who’s thriving in his new career

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. Learn more
  • Al Boum Photo won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 and 2020 for trainer Willie Mullins and earnt over £1m in a glittering career for Marie and Joe Donnelly. His winning tally included three Grade One victories, including the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in his novice chase campaign in 2018. And he is now thriving in his new career as a riding horse with Louise Duffy.

    Cheltenham Festival tips Al Boum Photo, 1st (nearside) leads over the last 13-3-20

    Al Boum Photo (nearside) en-route to his 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup victory.

    “I’m very lucky to have him,” says Louise of ‘Boum’, who was retired from racing after pulling up in the 2022 French Gold Cup at Auteuil by jockey Paul Townend after jumping poorly.

    Boum is the third racehorse that Louise, who juggles riding with a full-time office job, has taken on from Willie Mullins. She previously retrained Grade One winners Arvika Ligeonniere and Assessed with the former competing successfully to CCI2*-L level.

    “I was tentatively looking for another horse to retrain as Arvika Ligeonniere was getting older, so I text Jackie [Mullins – Willie’s wife] to see if they had any horses looking for a new home,” explains Louise. “She let me know Boum and [fellow Grade One winner] Melon were going to be retired, but that it wasn’t public knowledge.

    “I went to try them at Willie’s yard at Closutton and Boum was the one I got on best with. He’d enjoyed his summer holiday in the field with Galopin Des Champs and I picked him up in August 2022.”

    Al Boum Photo

    Al Boum Photo at home

    Since then, Louise and Boum have been enjoying getting to know each other and most recently took part in the Stepping Stones to Success Thoroughbred event class at Wexford Equestrian. This comprised a BE90 dressage test followed by showjumping and cross-country on an all-weather surface over a course of 80-90cm, which they completed successfully.

    “He hasn’t done a huge number of competitions as I’ve given him time to find his feet in his new job,” says Louise. “His first event was at the Tattersalls Ireland July Show in 2023, where he took part in the novice showing series. There were 25 horses in the class and we finished fourth – I was over the moon. We were meant to do two or three one-day events at the end of last year, but the wet weather put paid to that.”

    Al Boum Photo

    Al Boum Photo and Louise Duffy.

    Louise, who is based in Co. Meath, 30 minutes north of Dublin Airport, says that Boum can be “fresh, spooky and cheeky”.

    “But he has incredible intelligence and has such a work ethic, which can sometimes be his undoing as he tries so hard. But he’s got such an ability to learn and is a real athlete.

    “He has no idea how good he could be and he is still finding his feet. He has obviously come from a busy yard so riding out on my own at home was an adjustment for him to start with, but it’s just been a case of giving him time to build up his confidence.”

    Al Boum Photo

    Boum is, unsurprisingly, a big fan of carrots too.

    “He loves cuddles and carrots – he is a real carrot radar and sniffs them out,” laughs Louise, who is hoping that Boum will take to eventing. “He loves having questions to answer and having to think. I’d never say never to showing, but I think he will really enjoy eventing and some working hunter classes too.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...