Culloty hoping Lord keeps 'lovely weight' for Hennessy
RSA Chase winner Lord Windermere is on course to make his seasonal reappearance in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
Trainer Jim Culloty is hoping some of the horses above his Cheltenham hero will stand their ground in the famous handicap chase on November 30 to give his seven-year-old a raceable weight.
Should Lord Windermere take his chance then he will bid to emulate the Nicky Henderson-trained Bobs Worth, which won the RSA and the Hennessy in 2012.
"Down Royal was the obvious possibility for his first run, but the ground up there was too quick for him," Culloty said. "I'm quite happy running him first time out in the Hennessy. It's a competitive race, but he's had a gallop and he'll have another one before then.
"Hopefully, if Tidal Bay runs with top-weight off 171 that would leave us on a lovely weight, but it depends on those above us. Bobs Worth was rated 160 last year, we're only rated 154."
Meanwhile, Minella Foru is set to step up to Grade One company after coming through his latest test with flying colours at Navan on Sunday.
Eddie Harty's exciting four-year-old, owned by JP McManus, followed up his debut triumph over smaller obstacles with a smooth success over another promising horse in Very Wood in the For Auction Novice Hurdle.
He could now go to Fairyhouse for the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle on December 1 or for the Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting.
That Leopardstown fixture was given a boost yesterday when Ryanair confirmed that they will be the title sponsor when supporting three races on the last day on December 29. The airline will also back the feature Grade One Ryanair Hurdle, formerly the Istabraq Festival Hurdle.
Last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero Champagne Fever could make his debut over fences at Punchestown this Saturday.
Already ante-post favourite for the Arkle back at Cheltenham in March, if he takes up this option he will be running over two and a half miles. He is one of 19 entries along with stablemate Ballycasey, the classy novice hurdler Our Vinnie, Dessie Hughes' Si C'Etait Vrai and Colm Murphy's Marlbrook.