Al Boum Photo galloped into National Hunt folklore as he joined the elite band of horses to record back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Giving Willie Mullins a fantastic four-timer on the day, Al Boum Photo, the 100-30 favourite, had to dig deep to see off the opposition in a close finish.

Al Boum Photo, Santini, Lostintranslation and Real Steel had led the pack heading to two out, where Presenting Percy fell. Paul Townend set sail after the last and the winning post came just in time as Santini closed the gap to a neck at the line.

Lostintranslation was a length and a quarter away in third place, with Monalee fourth and Delta Work fifth, having struggled to get into contention following a mistake at the second fence.

Townend said: “I thought I’d never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year, (but) I think this is even better. It’s all about this, it’s all about this lad. Unreal, it’s a credit to Willie. To come here with one run (this season), the man’s a genius.”

Mullins said: “It’s fantastic, an absolutely unbelievable day. That man there on the screen, Paul Townend - people said he was under pressure. Paul does his own thing, he probably rides better under a little bit of pressure - really really good from him.

“It’s not easy to take over from someone like Ruby Walsh, but Paul’s gone and stamped his authority this season in Ireland riding for our yard, so I’m really delighted for him.

“I left him alone, I asked what he was going to do. I think the horse wanted a bit more of the action as it unfolded, he didn’t disappoint the horse. He let the horse do it and that’s a rider riding with huge confidence.”

Cartmel trainer James Moffatt had high hopes for Minella Charmer for the County Handicap Hurdle, which would have been a first ride around Cheltenham for Barrow jockey Charlotte Jones.

Unfortunately, the nine-year-old gelding was pulled out before the race, which was won by the Mullins-trained Saint Roi, ridden by Barry Geraghty.