Al Boum Photo became the first back-to-back winner of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup since the great Best Mate as he triumphed again for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

Having had six second places before finally winning the big prize last year, the Irish trainer has now claimed it twice in a row.

As sport shuts down all over Western Europe due to the coronavirus outbreak, all eyes were on a Festival many believed should have been cancelled. But go ahead it did and there was a memorable centrepiece to the final day of racing.

Sent off the 100-30 favourite, Al Boum Photo travelled well throughout for Townend and seized control jumping the last as Lostintranslation tried his best to challenge.

Santini also emerged from behind to stake his claim and the three of them battled it out up the hill, with Al Boum Photo hanging on at the line as Santini closed the gap to a neck.

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

Al Boum Photo follows in the hoofprints of Best Mate, who won the race three times between 2002 and 2004.

Townend, who sealed the Festival's Leading Jockey award with the win, said: "It's amazing. I tell you, I'd want some boot in the rear end if I was in front that early and got beat by Santini though.

"I thought I'd never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year, 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, the man's a genius."

Mullins won the first four races of the day, to bring his total for the week to seven and put him in pole position to be leading trainer once again.

Mullins said: "It's a fantastic, absolutely unbelievable day. That man Paul Townend, people said he was under pressure.

"Paul does his own thing, he probably rides better under a little bit of pressure, (it was) really, really good from him.

"(I'm) delighted for Paul, 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.

"It worked out, so I'm really happy and delighted for Paul."

Paul Townend celebrates

On having the same preparation as last year, he said: "We just decided to follow what happened last year, why change it if it works? Thankfully it paid off.

"I think it was only history against him today. I didn't think the race was as tough as last year, Paul was brave on him and the whole thing came together. It's Paul's day today."

Nicky Henderson said of the gallant Santini: "You have got to be very proud of him and pleased for everybody, it was a great run. You couldn't have done anything else. He never touched a fence, he was in the perfect position the whole way.

"He fought like a lion. There was nothing else you could do. The winner was better by a neck on the day.

"To be fair this is only his sixth steeplechase and he has only got to improve a neck and (another 100 yards) and he was nearly going to get there. After what Champ did (in the RSA), I couldn't hope for that twice.

"He was a couple of lengths down at the last and has got back to within a neck. Nico (de Boinville) gave him a beautiful ride. It was a very good race.

"There is a very big difference between first and second, but Willie is a great mate and Joe (Donnelly, owner) has got a couple of lovely young horses with us, so I'm thrilled for them, as they great people.

"This will be the only objective next season and I've told Willie he isn't allowed any prep race, not even in January!

"Somebody has to finish second - it is a hard place to be, but we can't complain."

Colin Tizzard was also proud of the effort of Lostintranslation.

He said: "It was a brilliant run in the end. We've had a hard old week, as nothing has been going right and we have had a few dirty noses at home and we thought, 'should be running this one', as that is how bad it got today.

"Then he come and runs like that, with the choke out a bit. He had every chance. He was just beaten by two better horses. It was a fantastic run."