Lord Windermere (left): could run at Punchestown festivalPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Lord Windermere could run at Punchestown
GOLD CUP hero Lord Windermere will get an entry for Punchestown next month, trainer Jim Culloty said on Sunday, while Irish racegoers should definitely be able to witness his other Cheltenham Festival winner in action before the end of the season.
Lord Windermere and Spring Heeled, who landed the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase at the festival - the duo were Culloty's only runners at Prestbury Park, the trainer amazingly having previously not had a winner since August - were proudly shown on off at Culloty's County Cork stables for the traditional Cheltenham Gold Cup homecoming.
Lord Windermere, who survived a tense stewards' inquiry to win the Gold Cup under Davy Russell, remains more likely to have his next run later in the year, when his campaign will be geared around a defence of his Cheltenham prize and for which he is 12-1 joint-third favourite with race sponsor Betfred.
"My gut feeling is to leave him off and try to get a better preparation into him next year," his trainer said. "We'll see. He'll get an entry at Punchestown though."
Culloty, who also won three Gold Cups as a jockey on Best Mate, added: "Spring Heeled will almost definitely go to Fairyhouse or Punchestown. He'll be entered all over the place, we'll see where he gets his ground."
The consensus in the Racing Post's Monday Jury feature was that Lord Windermere would face an uphill task to defend his crown in 12 months' time - just as Bobs Worth proved to have this year.
Trainer Brendan Powell, whose son Brendan was among the winners at the festival, said in reply to a question about the chances of the four championship-winning horses following up next March: "Lord Windermere is the least likely to follow up as he might find younger ones coming through to beat him."
Patrick Mullins, amateur-rider son of leading festival trainer Willie, said "It isn't inconceivable for any of them to follow up next year", while jockey Andrew Thornton remarked: "Both Jezki and Lord Windermere could do it again, but there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge before next year."
Read the Monday Jury Cheltenham Festival special and all the latest fallout from the festival in Monday's Racing Post - also available on iPad from 8pm