Culloty ponders headgear option for Windermere's tilt at Grand National
Jim Culloty is toying with the idea of putting headgear on Lord Windermere in Saturday week's Aintree Grand National.
The 2014 Gold Cup hero proved a major disappointment in this season's Cheltenham renewal - failing to get involved and being pulled up by Davy Russell, who was subsequently informed by Culloty that he would not be riding his horses any more.
The Churchtown, Co Cork-based trainer has indicated that the horse will be ridden by Robbie McNamara at Aintree, while he will also be represented by last year's Kim Muir winner, Spring Heeled, which will be now partnered by Nick Scholfield, who became available after Sam Winner's defection.
According to Culloty, good ground would favour both his horses and the idea of Lord Windermere wearing some form of headgear is now a live possibility.
"I rode him in cheekpieces this morning," he said, "and Robbie will school him in cheekpieces and blinkers to see if one of them makes a noticeable difference. He struggled in the ground at Cheltenham."
The latest high-profile defectors from the field yesterday were Hennessy third Merry King and Nicky Henderson's Hadrian's Approach, which will now be re-routed to the Scottish National. Henry de Bromhead has also ruled out Home Farm.
"He didn't run well in the Gold Cup," said the Waterford trainer. "He's not ready for it. I'm sure he will be one day, but not this year."
It means Emma Lavelle's Court By Surprise is now guaranteed a run and she said she was talking to jockeys from both sides of the Irish Sea about riding him. He has won his two starts this season though he was 'given' the Badger Beer Chase after first past the post The Young Master was found to be ineligible.
Nina Carberry will have another go at becoming the first woman to ride the National winner after being booked by Mouse Morris for First Lieutenant.
Winner of the Grade One Betfred Bowl over the Mildmay fences at Aintree in 2013, the Michael O'Leary-owned gelding has not been the force of old of late. Morris was left needing a jockey with Bryan Cooper suspended. (© Daily Telegraph, London)