A gutsy performance from Lord Windermere (8g Oscar-Satellite Dancer, by Satco) saw the son of Oscar prevail in a great finish to the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday under Davy Russell.
Trainer Jim Culloty was in a state of disbelief after Lord Windermere, who also won last season’s G1 RSA Chase, survived a lengthy stewards’ enquiry to land the Gold Cup for owner Dr Ronan Lambe.
The eight-year-old had drifted right under a strong ride from Russell after the last and the stewards had looked into the possibility that he had caused interference to the runner-up, On His Own, who was beaten a short-head.
However, the placings remained unaltered to give Culloty his first success in the Cup as a trainer and fourth in total, as the Co Cork-based handler had won three Gold Cups as a jockey on Best Mate (in 2002, 2003 and 2004).
“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 (Russell) to drop him out and ride his own race.
“I bought him as a four-year-old breeze-up horse here. I wasn’t looking to buy anything that day but as soon as I saw him, I fell in love with him. I was bidding on him in the ring and I didn’t know that the vendor was behind me. Someone else was bidding as well but all of a sudden, they stopped and I was able to get him. I called up Dr Lambe (the owner) afterwards and he asked me if I liked him. I told him I loved him and so he decided to take him.
“Everything this horse has done suggested that the Gold Cup was the perfect race for him. When we ran him at Leopardstown (in the Hennessy Gold Cup), we learned a lot about him and decided the best thing to do was to drop him out and let him find his own way into the race.”
Winning jockey Davy Russell knows all about the ups and downs of jump racing, having lost his job as the retained rider of the Gigginstown House Stud horses at the beginning of the year. However, Lord Windermere’s victory gave him a 230/1 double on the day (following Tiger Roll’s victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle) he was in a reflective mood after the race.
“I’ve always said ‘that’s life’,” said Russell. “Things happen and you move on. It’s been made so much easier with the support of Jim (Culloty) and Dr Lambe and it’s this sort of support that keeps you going.
“The horse jumped super. If you leave him alone, he has more confidence so I didn’t want to do anything for show. He’s a confidence horse so I didn’t want to pick my stick up.
“It’s very special to win the Gold Cup. Obviously Jim knows a lot more than me about winning it though!”
Dr Ronan Lambe, owner of Lord Windermere, added: “After Jim had bought Lord Windermere, he called me to ask me if I’d like to buy him. Jim loved him and I liked him too when I saw him – I obviously like him a lot more now!
“After Davy had won on him last year, I walked over to him and asked him if he was available in March of next year. He said he was and it’s great he has stuck with the horse. He’s timed the ride to perfection – it was a brilliant effort.”
Lord Windermere was bred by Edmond Coleman and having been sold for 30,000 euros as a foal at Tattersalls Ireland he was bought by Jim Culloty for £75,000 at Brightwells’ sale at Cheltenham in December 2010.