Coming to the last in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham back in March, it looked like Lord Windermere was booked for second place. But after Boston Bob fell, Davy Russell’s mount stayed on stoutly to take the race and announce himself as a contender for the Gold Cup next March.
In trainer Jim Culloty, the seven-year-old is in the capable hands of someone who knows all too well what it takes to claim the festival showpiece, having partnered the great Best Mate to three straight victories in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
The County Cork based handler has confirmed that a shot at the Gold Cup is the long-term plan for the season, with a possible crack at the Hennessy in the meantime – a route that Bob’s Worth took last campaign.
Lord Windermere would become the first Irish trained winner of the Gold Cup since War of Attrition fought off Hedgehunter in 2006, and based on the way he stayed up the Cheltenham hill in March there are certainly worse 20/1 shots about.
His RSA Chase win was a first attempt at more than three miles and proved that the extra furlong for the big one, shouldn’t be a problem.
With his sire Oscar being responsible for many top two-milers such as Big Zeb, Peddlers Cross and Rock on Ruby, one could be forgiven for having doubts about his stamina. But with the stallion also responsible for Grand National third Teaforthree and the hugely exciting staying hurdler At Fishers Cross, some of those doubts can be eradicated.
Jumping from novice company to the very top can be a step too far for some, but RSA winners do have a decent record when contesting the following year’s Gold Cup.
10 of the last 20 RSA winners have taken their chance the subsequent year, with Bob’s Worth, Denman and Florida Pearl all completing the double. Of the remaining seven, Looks Like Trouble and Young Hustler both claimed third, providing a 50 per cent place yield for those attempting the double.
With this record, the prior experience of the Cheltenham hill and the statements of intent from the trainer, 20/1 could prove too big an each-way price for Lord Windermere by the time the next festival comes around.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing