Wednesday 24 January 2018

Culloty coy on Windermere's future plans

A stumble at a troublesome path turning in threatened to undo all his good work, but Lord Windermere recovered to finally overhaul Lyreen Legend halfway up the run in.

Having led three-out, Boston Bob put in a short stride at the last and paid the price. It was his first real mistake and it might have been the sign of a horse on its last legs.

In any event, the outcome was a resounding vindication of Culloty's methods and Russell was eager to acknowledge as much after getting off the mark for the week.

"All credit to Jim Culloty," he said. "He has done a marvellous job with this horse and I only had to steer him today."

The champion jockey, riding Lord Windermere for a first time, wouldn't be drawn on his potential as a Gold Cup prospect.

Culloty, who achieved eternal glory in the race on Best Mate, had to stop himself tempting fate, but his dream has only one end-goal.

"We'll celebrate tonight and then think about the future," was all he would say.

Galvanising

Mullins' day had started on a better note in the four-miler, with his son Patrick galvanising a now characteristic late burst out of Back In Focus to get the 9/4 favourite up in the shadow of the post.

After Derek O'Connor bit the dust on Rival D'Estruval at the second-last, Nina Carberry looked set to go clear on Tofino Bay. As happened at Leopardstown last month, though, Back In Focus motored home in the nick of time.

"This winner means as much to me as any other one I have had here," a visibly emotional Mullins admitted after watching his son win a race that he won twice as a rider in the 1980s.

Carberry, whose brother Paul was stood down for the day after aggravating an old shoulder injury in a fall on Tuesday, received a seven-day ban for excessive use of the whip as she tried to keep Tofino Bay going. The suspension won't kick in until after the Festival, but it could rule her out of the Irish Grand National.

With the ground drying all the while, Mullins' strongly fancied Pont Alexandre's third in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle was no bad effort, and he eventually hit five for the meeting when Briar Hill took the Champion Bumper under Ruby Walsh.

In between, Davy Condon enjoyed an armchair ride on Flaxen Flare in the Fred Winter to set up a superb four-timer for the raiders.

Gordon Elliott's 25/1 shot stormed up the hill for an emphatic victory.

Visit www.independent.ie today to watch Richard Forristal with the latest news and tips live from the racecourse.

Irish Independent

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