Just what did Russell do wrong on Windermere?

The aftermath of Cheltenham didn’t half throw up a somewhat bizarre story, with Jim Culloty giving Davy Russell the bullet, telling him he would ride no more of his charges, including last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, Lord Windermere.

Just what did Russell do wrong on Windermere?

Indeed, the said Lord Windermere was at the heart of the problem, with Culloty clearly unhappy with Russell’s handling of the horse in this year’s Gold Cup.

In some ways the disagreement was almost funny, seriously puzzling and it was certainly difficult to understand just what Russell is supposed to have done wrong.

Truth to tell, Lord Windermere has enjoyed a charmed life and, essentially, qualifies as a great overachiever. He is a dual festival winner at Cheltenham, which can never be taken from him and is very much to Culloty’s credit.

Lord Windermere landed the RSA Chase in 2013 and was, arguably, lucky to do so.

Boston Bob clearly shaped as the most likely winner rising to the last fence, about a length in front, when falling.

That final hill at Cheltenham has the ability to change everything, of course, and optimists might well conclude that Lord Windermere would have scored in any case.

Russell did the driving then and was also in the plate last year, when Lord Windermere won a most extraordinary Gold Cup.

The 20-1 shot was the recipient of what is universally regarded as one of the greatest rides ever seen at Cheltenham, arriving from well off the pace to beat On His Own by a short head.

The Giant Bolster was third, Silviniaco Conti fourth and Bobs Worth fifth and subsequent events have clearly indicated that was a poor Gold Cup.

Lord Windermere won largely due to magic from the saddle and then his luck continued to hold when the race was over.

Many observers, including this one, believe he should have lost the race at the subsequent stewards’ inquiry and was then finally home free when On His Own’s connections, rather sportingly, decided not to appeal the verdict of the Cheltenham stewards.

This season, the nine-year-old was given three outings before Cheltenham and none of the efforts gave any indication he was again likely to be competitive. That’s why you could back the champ once more at 20-1.

Lord Windermere performed deplorably, was tailed off a long way from home and completely out of contention when pulled up by Russell before the second last. Quite what the pilot did wrong is a mystery!

But Culloty was less than pleased, which is his prerogative, and if he doesn’t want Russell any more then that’s his business, as long as it doesn’t displease his owners.

You’d imagine Culloty and Russell engaged in a “healthy’’ debate, prior to the parting of the ways.

Russell’s career, as soon as he gets back to full health, will, you suspect, continue unabated, while the hope for Culloty is that he will train a winner sooner rather than later, not having had one since Prince Of Lombardy, partnered by Russell, scored at Thurles on March 20 of last year.

When Russell lost the Gigginstown job, he surely suffered a number of sleepless nights. I doubt this latest break-up, however, has affected his sleep pattern in any way.

It brought to mind a story told about Piggott many years ago. Legend has it that he got dog’s abuse from a trainer, after getting beaten on a horse trained by the man who had a mere handful of little beauties in his care.

“It’s the last time you will ever ride for me,” screamed the trainer. “Then that’s obviously my career over,” was reportedly the delightfully sarcastic retort of the great man.


The less-than-fashionable Downpatrick was the only meeting in Ireland last Sunday and the only meeting as well to which ATR had access.

In fairness to the station they threw plenty at it, which made for a most enjoyable afternoon’s viewing. In particular Kevin O’Ryan did sterling work and he literally stuck his microphone under just above everything that moved.

The world and its mother is aware O’Ryan has the gift of the gab, but it is backed up as well by huge knowledge and his interviews are invariably informative and entertaining. Indeed, there is literally none of the cringe factor that can be so embarrassing with one or two other microphone pushers we could mention.

Anyway, watching Downpatrick being covered exclusively by ATR made you yearn for a channel that concentrates totally on Irish racing. It really would be some boost to the game.


Here’s a staggering statistic, or two, worth noting. Willie Mullins currently lies third in the trainers’ championship in Britain, with only Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson ahead of him.

Mullins is in front of the likes of Philip Hobbs, David Pipe, Alan King Jonjo O’Neill, Venetia Williams and Nigel Twiston-Davies. His 15 successes, to go with place money, in Britain for the campaign have seen him win in excess of £1.3m.

He is miles clear in the championship at home, with winnings of more than €2.6m.

Between euro and sterling, it really is an astonishing amount of money for a National Hunt trainer to win in a season that is far from over.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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