herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Lord Windermere's National entry is only a back-up plan

Lord Windermere
Lord Windermere

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere was among 98 names in contention for a tilt at the Aintree Grand National in April but the entry was more of a precaution, according to his jockey Davy Russell.

Russell will be aboard the Jim Culloty trained nine-year-old in Sunday’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown ahead of which the horse is described as being in good form and the Cork native is looking forward to returning to Cheltenham.

“There’s no doubt that Cheltenham certainly brings out the best in him,” Russell said. “But it’s hard to say that an Irish Gold Cup is only a prep race, but the one thing you don’t want to do is empty the tank.”

Looking ahead to Aintree, the former champion jockey commented: “I wouldn’t think that Lord Windermere is an Aintree horse yet anyway and I’d imagine the entry is only in case something went wrong as Jim (Culloty) has another nice horse for the National in Spring Heeled.”

Both the first and second in last years Aintree showpiece were included yesterday as Pineau De Re and Balthazar King featuring, while there was 25 Irish trained horses in total with the race failing to come this side of the water since Gordon Elliott struck with Silver Birch in 2007.

Elliott was responsible for three entries, Cause Of Causes owned by JP McManus, Make A Track who Elliott recently acquired from Charlie Swan and Grade One winner Roi Du Mee.

Willie Mullins, who won the race in 2005 with Hedgehunter has Back In Focus, Ballycasey, Boston Bob and Prince De Beauchene in contention at this stage.