Jim Culloty was back in the Cheltenham winners’ enclosure for the Gold Cup today (Friday 14 March), but this time as a trainer rather than a jockey.
Culloty, who won aboard Best Mate 3 times, sent out the 20-1 winner Lord Windermere, in what was an exciting race with a thrilling finish.
The race, which had been expected to be a battle between last year’s winner Bobs Worth and the King George VI Chase winner Silviniaco Conti, ended in success for Culloty, owner Dr Ronan Lambe and jockey Davy Russell.
On His Own finished a short head back in 2nd, The Giant Bolster picked up for 3rd, while Silviniaco Conti had to settle for 4th. The 6/4 favourite Bobs Worth, who was bidding for back-to-back Gold Cups, was 5th.
But it was a tense wait for connections of Lord Windermere, who had to endure a stewards enquiry before an official result.
The horse had drifted right, and stewards were looking at possibly interference to the runner-up, On His Own.
It was ruled in favour of 8-year-old Lord Windermere, who kept the race.
“I’m in a total state of disbelief to be honest,” said Culloty.
“Cheltenham has made all the difference to him – he loves it round here. We suspected he needed to come back here to show his best and I just told Davy to drop him out and ride his own race.”
It was the 2nd of 3 victories of the day for Irish jockey Davy, who also won aboard Tiger Roll in the Triumph Hurdle and Savello in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Davy’s had an up and down season, losing his retained rider position at Gigginstown House Stud at the beginning of the year to Bryan Cooper, who broke his leg earlier in the week at Cheltenham.
“I’ve always said ‘that’s life’,” said Russell. “Things happen and you move on.
“He’s jumped super. If you leave him alone, he has more confidence so I didn’t want to do anything for show.
“It’s very special to win the Gold Cup. Obviously Jim knows a lot more than me about winning it though!”
Jim Culloty, who rode Best Mate to win the famous race on 3 occasions (2002, 2003 and 2004), became the 4th jockey to ride and train the winner of the Gold Cup. He joins Fred Winter, Pat Taaffe and Jonjo O’Neill on the illustrious list
A family affair in the Foxhunter Chase
Tammys Hill won the Foxhunter Chase in what was a family affair for the Smyths.
The Irish 9-year-old, who was sent off 15-2 won by 3 and a quarter lengths to 40/1 outsider Carsonstown Boy.
The horse is owned and was bred by Patsy Smyth and ridden by his son James.
The winning trainer Liam Lennon finished 4th in the 2002 Foxhunter Chase on Joe Blake.
“It’s a brilliant achievement for the Smyths,” said Liam.
“They bred this horse themselves, they reared him and fed him every morning from when he was a foal.
“That is the highlight of James’ career – that was unbelievable.”
James Smyth added: “It couldn’t get much better than this. I am happy enough riding around Cheltenham, never mind winning.”
Drama for jockeys
H&H columnist Daryl Jacob celebrated a win on Lac Fontana in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle. But in a painful show of the highs and lows of being a jockey was thrown off on the way to the start by Port Melon in the next.
He was stretchered off and taken to hospital. Paul Nicholls later reported Daryl had broken his knee, leg and elbow.
Meanwhile Ruby Walsh fell from Abbyssial in the Triumph Hurdle, breaking his right arm.
For a full report don’t miss the Cheltenham report issue of H&H out on Thursday 20 March.