CHELTENHAM Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere is on course to have his final outing before the defence of his Cheltenham crown in Sunday’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown, where he will face eight possible rivals.
This season has been all about another trip to the Cotswolds for Jim Culloty’s stable star, who will be gunning for a third successive win at the Festival having also been successful in the 2013 RSA Chase.
He made a pleasing return to action in the two-and-a-half-mile John Durkan which meant connections approached the Lexus over Christmas with confidence, but he was only seventh and his jockey Davy Russell hopes that was just a blip. “I went back to the old tactics and dropped him right in and he still ran a reasonably good race the last day, he was beaten the same distance as he was last year,” said Russell.
“We weren’t that happy to be honest, though, especially after his good first run at Punchestown when we were over the moon with him.
“We thought he’d improved for that so hopefully he can take a step forward again at Leopardstown.”
Willie Mullins has two strong possibles in Gold Cup runner-up On His Own, who bounced back to form in the Lexus, and Boston Bob.
Carlingford Lough, who made a respectable comeback in the Lexus when fifth, is on course to have his second start of the season.
Ted Walsh’s Foxrock makes the leap out of handicap company having won the BoyleSports Chase.
First Lieutenant is likely to take up his entry, meaning he will not be running in Haydock’s Grand National Trial a week later.
“He’ll probably run this weekend I’d have thought,” said trainer Mouse Morris.
“I’d certainly be more hopeful of goodish ground there than at Haydock.”
Gordon Elliott’s Roi Du Mee, Noel Meade’s Texas Jack and Henry de Bromhead’s Home Farm complete the list.