Lord Windermere the Hennessy Gold Cup choice
The Hennessy Gold Cup is the feature race on an outstanding card at Leopardstown today, and Lord Windermere is taken to return to winning ways in the 3m Grade 1 contest (3.50).
The Jim Culloty trained gelding has won just two of his last seven races, but those victories have come in the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013 and last year’s Gold Cup at the home of national hunt racing.
The nine-year-old dug deep in the latter to get the better of On His Own by a short-head in a driving finish, and that form sets the standard in this line-up.
Lord Winderemere has had just two runs since that success, and shaped with bags of promise on the first occasion on seasonal reappearance at Punchestown on good/yielding ground when third of six to the progressive Don Cossack in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase.
The son of Oscar kept on nicely under tender handling to be beaten five lengths over an inadequate 2m 4f, and it was a run which suggested he was as good as ever.
It was therefore slightly disappointing that Lord Windermere failed to build on that run last time out when finishing just seventh of nine to Road To Riches in the Lexus over course and distance, but in hindsight the very testing conditions were totally against him.
Jockey Davy Russell looked after Lord Windermere once it was clear he would not be winning, and I think far better can be expected this afternoon with the going set to be much more in his favour.
On His Own returned to form when runner-up in the Lexus and is an obvious danger if building on that effort.
The Willie Mullins trained 11-year-old looks the stable number one having been chosen by Ruby Walsh over Boston Bob, but he has done most of his winning on bottomless ground and could prove vulnerable under today’s conditions.
Others big players include Carlingford Lough and Foxrock.
The former is a really tough sort trained by John Kiely and ran a cracker on seasonal reappearance when fifth in the Lexus.
The nine-year-old held every chance until being carried right approaching the last and being unable to find any extra on the run-in to be beaten just over eight lengths, and looks sure to come on a bundle for the run given it was his first outing for 243 days.
Foxrock is a progressive seven-year-old who looks worth a crack at this level judged on his comfortable success under top weight in a valuable handicap chase over 2m 5f at the track last month.
The Ted Walsh trained gelding remains open to further improvement and could well be the fly in the ointment in wide open renewal if taking another step forward.