Wednesday 13 December 2017

Windermere to Lord it over his RSA rivals

Tom Peacock

JIM CULLOTY will forever be remembered for winning three Cheltenham Gold Cups aboard Best Mate, but he can join a small group to celebrate success as both a jockey and trainer through Lord Windermere on day two of the Festival.

The RSA Chase has long been the target for Lord Windermere, who landed a couple of races over hurdles last season without being given the sort of gruelling campaign that can leave a mark on a young horse for later on in his career.

A bit of a slow learner over fences, only winning at the third attempt, he ran very respectably against Texas Jack and Boston Bob in a couple of hot events at Leopardstown.

All his starts have been over trips of around two and a half miles, despite the seven-year-old constantly giving the impression of being an out-and-out stayer.

Stamina is certainly the key attribute required in the three miles of the RSA and with Culloty appearing to have been steadily bringing him to the peak for this race, he must have strong claims of striking at a rewarding price.

The feature event of Cheltenham's second afternoon, the Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase, is the only race it would be sensible to sit out, unless large bets on short-priced favourites are desirable.

Put simply, Nicky Henderson's Sprinter Sacre is untouchable on all known form and, frighteningly, seems to be getting better, so the only question is which horses will take second and third places.

Nigel Twiston-Davies was forced to withdraw Imperial Commander from the Gold Cup and there are question marks over the health of the stable in general, but if everything is well with The New One, he will take some beating in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

After wowing during the first part of the season, the five-year-old was surprisingly beaten by At Fishers Cross on Trials Day, but his rider perhaps made use of his devastating kick a little early and he was worn down near the line.

Ridden with more restraint, this exciting prospect should be very much involved.

Buddy Bolero is the choice in the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase for trainer David Pipe.

He has won both his starts to date this term and while he is taking a massive step up in trip to four miles, he has looked a thorough stayer in the past.

The remaining events on the card have a lottery look about them.

There is sure to be money for Fiveforthree, representing Festival specialist Willie Mullins in the Coral Cup, and he could potentially be well-weighted for his first start since the 2011 Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

A fragile type, the grey has course form in winning the 2008 Neptune, and while his absence is a little off-putting, he is a high-class horse running in a handicap and commands the utmost respect.

Those lucky enough to be at Prestbury Park will have heard at least half a dozen tips for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper before it is finally under way.

There does not seem to have been an outstanding candidate to have emerged from Ireland, so perhaps the prize can stay on home soil for the third time in four years.

JP McManus snapped up Regal Encore after he made a winning debut for Anthony Honeyball at Southwell, and his judgement looked sound as the gelding went on to bolt up at Chepstow from subsequent winner Be Bop Boru.

Although not seen since October, the vibes about this representative of an up-and-coming stable have been positive.

Equally there will be whispers aplenty about the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and a lively outsider could be South South West.

Able to handle all kinds of ground and battle-hardened for fierce competition through plenty of runs on the Flat, he won at Gowran and has earned his place in the field by running respectably in a couple of the better juvenile contests in Ireland.


He should be better than he showed on his recent return from a break.


CHELTENHAM: 1.30 Buddy Bolero, 2.05 The New One, 2.40 LORD WINDERMERE (NAP), 3.20 Sprinter Sacre, 4.00 Fiveforthree, 4.40 South South West, 5.15 Regal Encore.

HUNTINGDON: 1.45 Brunton Blue, 2.20 Rocky Rebel, 2.55 Gidam Gidam, 3.35 Samtheman, 4.15 Call It On, 4.55 Chilbury Hill, 5.30 Dakar Run.

KEMPTON: 5.50 Manomine, 6.20 Belle Isle, 6.50 Compton Rainbow, 7.20 Paradise Spectre, 7.50 Go Far, 8.20 Beggers Belief, 8.50 Honey Of A Kitten.

SOUTHWELL: 1.55 Tartan Blue, 2.30 Spark Of Genius, 3.05 Frontier Fighter, 3.45 Myzamour, 4.25 Amtired, 5.05 Marcus Caesar, 5.40 Pull The Pin.

DOUBLE: Lord Windermere and Sprinter Sacre.

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