Willie Mullins wishes his dual Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo was in better form with just over three weeks until he will try to reclaim his crown.

Having won the blue riband twice off the back of just one previous run, Mullins wanted to change tack this season and give the 10-year-old more action.

However, a dry winter meant those plans were scuppered and Al Boum Photo will again head to Cheltenham with just one outing - at Tramore on New Year's Day - in the bank.

Mullins, though, fears he may have worked him too hard at home at Closutton as a result and only on Wednesday morning was he starting to show a bit more zip on the gallops.

"I'd rather I had him in better order, to be honest," said Mullins.

"I brought him away to work and I wasn't happy with him, so we'll see.

"He's fit and we should have plenty of time. I think he's in better order this morning than he was the last few days.

"I just gave him a few easy days after he worked. Maybe it just wasn't his day when I brought him away. He usually comes right for Cheltenham.

"I wish he was in better form, but we still have time. It's just a matter of hoping he comes into form."

He went on: "I was probably hard on him because he hadn't had racing and maybe that just backfired on me a little bit with the work I gave him.

"I was very happy with him after Tramore and so was Paul (Townend). He said he was in way better form than he was the previous year.

"But because we haven't had the chance to run him since, I was working him very hard at home and maybe we just overcooked him a little bit at his age.

"It looks an open Gold Cup and a lot will depend on who gets to the races on the day in great form, I think."

Mullins has nailed his colours to Chacun Pour Soi's mast ahead of Energumene in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Despite the fact Energumene is trading at around half the odds of the 10-year-old, Mullins thinks the six-times Grade One winner is more than capable of claiming a first Festival win.

Energumene only has a length to find with Nicky Henderson’s odds-on favourite Shishkin and while Chacun Pour Soi has never bumped into that rival yet, he has been written off by many having seemingly failed to get up the famous Cheltenham hill in last year’s race when he faded into third.

"I think the world of Chacun Pour Soi. Maybe, as a lot of people are saying, he’s not able to face the hill in Cheltenham, but he’s a horse I’d like to see getting a fair crack of the whip over there, which I think we haven’t had yet," said Mullins.

"Maybe he’s a horse that runs better fresh, especially when you take all the travelling into it.

"At the time I felt we should have been more use of him last year. This year it’s a different race and we’ll see what happens.

"Energumene is a young horse coming up and Chacun has done a lot, so we’ll give him the respect he’s due I think.

"Energumene ran a terrific race in Ascot. We know he’s not far away from wherever Shishkin is, but as I said on the day, it’s going to be hard to turn that form around.

"I think Shishkin made two mistakes, so he has that advantage if he has a clear round. We can probably change things a little bit with Energumene and hope to turn it around, but it’s going to be tough I think."

One issue that has still to be decided is which of the two Mullins runners stable jockey Paul Townend will ride, and whichever one he plumps for, somebody else will pick up an exceptional spare.

Mullins is favouring the two-and-a-half-mile Turners Novices’ Chase for his exciting prospect Galopin Des Champs over the three-mile Brown Advisory.

"He was so good the first day and was very brave the last day," said Mullins.

"He could go in either race and I want to chat with Paul, but I’d be happy enough I think to go in the Turners over two and a half. I think he has the ability to do that, he jumps well and he’s sharp.

"I don’t think he needs to go back up to an extended three miles.

"I try to pick the right race for our horses rather than worrying about the opposition. I think that’s the right way to do it.

"There’s no decision yet, but at the moment I’d be favouring the shorter race."

Allaho will be a banker for many as he attempts to repeat his stunning victory of last year in the Ryanair Case, with Mullins reporting the Cheveley Park-owned runner to be "in great shape and doing well".

King George winner Tornado Flyer, meanwhile, will attempt to cause another shock in the Boodles Gold Cup while the mercurial Asterion Forlonge still has options.

"Tornado Flyer goes for the Gold Cup. Danny (Mullins) was fantastic on him in the King George and I think a similar type performance in Cheltenham will put him right there.

"I think the extra distance could be an advantage to him. If it is, that puts him right in there.

"Soft ground certainly wouldn’t stop him, but his pedigree suggests he should go on better ground – I don’t think it matters to him.

"He’s a player, I think."

He went on: "Asterion Forlonge sneaked in at the bottom of the list of 30 this morning. He was on the list and off the list and back on it again!

"The day he gets all his jumping together he’s going to be a player, but unfortunately he usually finds a fence or two to make a mess of.

"In the King George he made a mistake four out and got out of the race and still came into it with a chance at the last, only to mess it up again.

"In the Irish Gold Cup he was running a cracker and from nowhere put down at the second-last. I put him out of my mind and he finished well to be fourth.

"I’m hoping more than expecting that he’ll get things right one day.

"I’d imagine he’ll go for the Gold Cup. He could go for the Ryanair, but we’ll see. I don’t think there’ll be too many ante-post bets on him in either race!"