Cheltenham Gold Cup duo to clash again in Hennessy
Lord Windermere and On His Own look all set to relive their pulsating Cheltenham Gold Cup encounter in the Hennessy-sponsored equivalent at Leopardstown next month.
Both horses were among 16 entries unveiled yesterday for the prestigious €150,000 Grade One and they have the race as their respective stated objective ahead of a return to the stage that they graced so dramatically last March.
On His Own also held an entry for next Thursday's Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park, but Willie Mullins had already suggested that he would rather send the 11-year-old to Leopardstown than ask him to concede weight all round in the valuable handicap that he has won the past two years.
Yesterday, the champion trainer duly scratched On His Own, leaving Ted Walsh's Foxrock as the top-rated Thyestes entry. However, Mullins might still have the top-weighted horse in the €100,000 three-miler, as Foxrock is instead expected to bid to justify 6/1 favouritism in Sunday's Boylesports Chase at Leopardstown. The champion trainer's Djakadam is the next highest-rated entry in the Thyestes. He heads the ante-post market at 4/1 and is an intended starter, as is the next on the list, Make A Track.
The nine-year-old could be Charlie Swan's last runner in a big race, after the iconic former champion jockey announced on Wednesday that he is to quit training at the end of the month.
There would be no more popular outcome should Make A Track send Swan out on a fitting high in the very race that provided him with his first major win as a trainer when This Is Serious scored 13 years ago.
Also of interest among the Gowran entries are Mullins' leading Champion Bumper contenders Bordini, Bellshill and Up For Review, while Noel Meade's Monksland catches the eye in the Galmoy Hurdle, a Grade Two that neither of his Leopardstown superiors Lieutenant Colonel or Jetson are in.
Both of those Grade One winners are among 36 entries for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle along with last year's one-two More Of That and Annie Power, which heads a record 48 initial contenders for the mares' hurdle.
Mullins, meanwhile, is responsible for a quarter of the Hennessy entries, though Champagne Fever is an unlikely starter as he looks poised to go down rather than up in distance following his spill at Thurles yesterday.
Neither would Djakadam be expected to fulfil his February 8 engagement just over a fortnight after the Thyestes, so it might be left to Boston Bob to join On His Own in the three-mile event.
Should Champagne Fever's Kinloch Brae nemesis Don Cossack also defect, On His Own would be the highest rated runner, his mark of 164 four pounds superior to Lord Windermere's.
Jim Culloty's Prestbury Park hero got stuck in the mud when seventh in last month's Lexus Chase, a race in which On His Own once again finished a gallant runner-up to Road To Riches.
Meade has already indicated that his impressive winner heads straight to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, while Culloty has expressed himself happy with his reigning champion ahead of a potential third clash with On His Own.
Interestingly, bookmaker Paddy Power has made Boston Bob its 3/1 favourite for the Hennessy, installing On His Own at 7/2, John Kiely's Carlingford Lough at 4/1 and Lord Windermere at 6/1. Power make Jonjo O'Neill's Irish National hero Shutthefrontdoor - owned, like Carlingford Lough, by JP McManus - the pick of four English entries, which include Many Clouds and Unioniste, at 10/1.