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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Across the Pond

Lord Windermere takes the Gold Cup

Lord Windermere
Lord Windermere capped an exceptional day for jockey Davy Russell, as the pair got the better of a thrilling finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and held on to the result in a dramatic stewards enquiry.

For Lord Winderemere's trainer, Jim Culloty, it would provide him with his first Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph as a trainer some ten years after his last win in the contest aboard the legendary three-time winner Best Mate.

Settled towards the very rear throughout the early stages of the race, Lord Windermere and Davy Russell bided their time as the likes of Silviniaco Conti created a strong early pace. As the runners angled towards their final few obstacles, it had seemed that the defending champion Bob's Worth and Paul Nicholls' Silvinaco Conti would battle towards the line for victory, but the trio of Lord Windermere, On His Own and The Giant Bolster came powering on the wide outside to snatch all three places from their grasp up the Cheltenham run-in with Russell and Lord Windermere grabbing victory by the most agonising of margins.

A head-on replay of the finish showed that Lord Windermere had drifted towards On His Own and The Giant Bolster in the final few stages, but despite minor interference, the stewards felt that there was enough doubt on whether On His Own would have finished ahead of the winner without the interference to justify a demotion of the winner.

"Half way around I was going to sack the jockey," joked winning trainer, Jim Culloty. who was referring to the waiting tactics deployed by Russell, "Davy [Russell] rode him last time and it was a falsely run race, he came in and had a smile on his face after being beaten twenty five lengths and said to us 'Take no notice, It will be different at Cheltenham'."

For Davy Russell, the final day of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival would provide him with an embarrassment of riches just two months after he was stood down from his retained role with Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud in favour of the younger up-and-coming jockey Bryan Cooper.

Cooper's injury in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle on Wednesday saw Russell recalled to ride O'Leary's horses on Friday, some twelve months after Russell himself was forced to miss this day through injury, and the talented County Cork born jockey was immediately on the score sheet in his first ride, aboard Tiger Roll in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The second and third races may have escaped Russell's grasp, but it is somewhat hard to win when you don't have a mount in those races, but his next ride provided the kind of memories which Russell will repeat over and over again as the years pass, with consideration surely made over the fact that Russell would have been riding Last Installment - an early unseat - in the Gold Cup if he wasn't stood down from his retained role earlier in the year.

Without a ride in the next two races - both limited to amateur and conditional jockeys - Russell signed off the Cheltenham Festival with yet another sublime ride aboard the Gigginstown House stud owned Savello

Russell, whom had entered the final day of Festival with just a solitary placed finish to his name, would end the final day a perfect three-from-three, indeed ensuring that he would miss his flight home that evening

"It's really just starting to sink in," said Russell. "It's hard to take it all in really but I'm delighted. Winning the Gold Cup is something every jockey dream about and in fairness to Jim he laid out the horses really well, it just came off for me."

In what was a day of turmoil, drama and excitement, Daryl Jacob - victorious aboard Lac Fontana in the second race of the day - was victim of a freak accident on the way to post for the third race, where the jockey was thrown to the hardstanding enclosure as his mount Port Melon bashed his way through the plastic rails on his way to the start.

Battered and bruised, Jacob attempted to walk himself into the on-track ambulance but was prevented from doing so by on-track staff. Upon reaching the local hospital, Jacob was found to have broken his knee, leg and elbow in the freak incident.

Festival Top Jockey Ruby Walsh had also been sent to hospital after the first race, in which he experienced a heavy fall aboard the Willie Mullins trained Abbyssial. Walsh was found to have a broken arm which will force him to miss up to three months - including the Grand National meeting.


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