Lord Windermere (in purple) pegs back Lyreen Legend in the RSA ChasePICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Festival glory for Culloty as Windermere wins RSA
Report: Cheltenham, Wednesday
RSA Chase (Grade 1) 3m½f, 5yo+
BEST MATE'S jockey Jim Culloty sent out his first Cheltenham Festival winner as a trainer as Lord Windermere kept on up the hill to come out on top in a tussle with Lyreen Legend.
Davy Russell had given the seven-year-old a cool ride around the inside of the course but the pair looked up against it after Boston Bob cruised into the lead as heads were turned for home.
The race though took on a very different complexion when Boston Bob crashed out at the final fence leaving Lord Windermere to battle it out with Lyreen Legend.
The 8-1 chance responded to his rider's urgings, crossing the line a length and three-quarters in front of the runner-up with a further six lengths back to Hadrian's Approach.
Favourite Unioniste finished back in fifth having never looked like being a factor.
Lord Windermere was winning his second chase from five starts over fences, having finished third behind Boston Bob in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown last month.
Culloty said: "I wanted to give him experience in Ireland but I didn't want to bottom him and it's worked.
"I knew this horse would like Cheltenham. I could have brought him here last year and he would have run well in a hurdle but we wanted a chaser and he's a proper chaser."
This was also a first Cheltenham Festival winner for owner Ronan Lambe and Culloty continued: "It took me a while to get the hang of this training but Dr Lambe has been a great supporter. He always wanted a Cheltenham winner and thank God it's happened."
Lambe said: "I'm delighted, most of all for Jim. He struggled a little bit at the beginning but he's doing fantastic with a small string. It was a beautiful ride by Davy. I asked him if he was available for the Gold Cup next year but he didn't answer that one!"
The RSA Chase has an indifferent record in throwing up subsequent chase stars in recent seasons so it was no surprise that the bookmakers were not getting carried away in giving Lord Windermere fancy quotes. Paddy Power made him a 20-1 chance for next year's Gold Cup with William Hill going 25-1.
More to follow...