Jim Culloty was a well-known National Hunt jockey and is now making his way in the world of training from his base in Churchtown in Co. Cork. The best horse he has trained has undoubtedly been Lord Windermere and that horse broke Culloty’s Cheltenham Festival duck as a trainer in the RSA Chase in 2013.
Name: Jim Culloty
Address: Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork
Principal Jockeys: Robbie McNamara, Davy Russell
- RSA Chase (Lord Windermere 2013)
- INH Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle (Lord Windermere 2011)
A Career In The Saddle
Jim Culloty first shot to international racing prominence as a jump jockey. He enjoyed a wonderful pro career that lasted almost a decade during which he rode a total of 394 winners up until his retirement in July 2005. He claimed a total of five wins at the Cheltenham Festival, including the Royal & Sun Alliance Chase on the Henrietta Knight-trained Lord Noelie in 2000 and the Champion Bumper on the Tom Cooper-trained Total Enjoyment in 2004, as well as riding Bindaree to a memorable success in the greatest steeplechase in the world, the Aintree Grand National, in 2002. However, Culloty will always be associated with the horse that provided him with his other three successes at the Cheltenham Festival, the incomparable Best Mate, on whom Jim won three Cheltenham Gold Cups and an Ericsson Chase at Leopardstown.
A Trainer’s Life
Having retired from the saddle in July 2005, Culloty dived straight into the day-to-day running of his new training base, saddling his first racecourse runner on 12th February 2006. Ironically, that first runner was Lord Noelie who had provided Culloty with his first Cheltenham Festival winner as a jockey in the Royal & Sun Alliance Chase in 2000. While he failed to win in point-to-points or in hunter chases for Culloty, just having Lord Noelie in the yard must have been of great sentimental value to Culloty.
Culloty had to wait until the following November before he saddled his first racecourse winner which came with Braun Star in a handicap chase at Thurles. He doubled his tally just over six weeks later when saddling Madroos to easily win a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park. The following March, the latter horse gave Culloty his first runner at the Cheltenham Festival when contesting the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle and while he failed to make a significant impact, the experience was a valuable one for Culloty.
Looking back on this stage of his career, Culloty freely admits that he was on a steep learning curve in his new profession and it took him quite a few years to get the hang of training and find the key to the facilities at his disposal. He saddled just seven winners in the four seasons from 2007/8 to 2010/11, but a combination of Culloty putting his growing experience to use and the arrival of a few above-average horses into his yard resulted in a break-out season for him in 2011/12.
Making An Impact
Spring Heeled most certainly played his part in Culloty’s successful 2011/12 campaign, winning a maiden hurdle at Galway and a novice hurdle at Limerick. Barel Of Laughs was another solid performer for Culloty, winning a maiden chase at Tipperary and a handicap chase at Thurles in the space of 16 days in October. However, without doubt Culloty’s star performer was Lord Windermere.
A £75,000 at the Cheltenham NH Breeze Up Sale, Lord Windermere didn’t come cheap, but he didn’t waste much time repaying that price, winning three of his six starts in what was a very promising novice hurdle campaign in 2011/12, with the highlight being his win in the Listed INH Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in December. However, Culloty’s hopes were high that he would prove even better as a novice chaser in 2012/13 and that very much proved to be the case.
Lord Windermere’s novice chase campaign was characterised by steady progression. He met with defeat in his first two starts over fences, but made no mistake in a maiden chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting. Narrow defeats followed in the Grade 2 Boylesports.com - Bet On Your Mobile Novice Chase and the Grade 1 Dr P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase back at Leopardstown, but he was clearly improving and Culloty was confident that the increased emphasis on stamina in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival would play to his strengths.
Sent off at 8/1, Davy Russell gave Lord Windermere an admirably patient ride and with Boston Bob falling at the final fence, Culloty’s charge hit the front on the run-in and despite taking a good look at the crowd, he held off the challenge of Lyreen Legend by 1¾ lengths to give Culloty his ticket back to the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham. It was a performance that promised even better to come in future and Culloty will undoubtedly be very excited about the future for his stable star.
2012/13 has seen the emergence of another potential star for Culloty in the shape of Legal Exit. The son of Exit To Nowhere impressed when winning a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown in January and bounced back from a disappointing effort in Grade 1 company to win a novice hurdle at Limerick in April in great style. Very much a chaser in the making, he looks to have a very bright future.
With two stable stars that any trainer in the country would love to have, Jim Culloty’s fortunes as a trainer look set to continue to improve and he is a trainer very much to keep on the right side of.Updated May 2013