Festival winners Fever and Windermere face off

Lord Windermere (right) has not won since landing the 2014 Gold Cup

PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos) Festival winners Fever and Windermere face off
By Brian Sheerin 9:00AM 24 NOV 2016

FORMER Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere returns to action at Thurles on Thursday in the feature 2m6f chase, in which he will face the Willie Mullins-trained dual Cheltenham Festival winner Champagne Fever.

Lord Windermere has not been seen since pulling up in the 2015 Grand National and has not managed to win a race since narrowly edging out On His Own in a dramatic 2014 Gold Cup.

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Ahead of reintroducing his stable star following nearly 600 days off the track, trainer Jim Culloty said: "Without saying too much, it looks like a nice starting point for him. He's well – I wouldn't be running him otherwise."

Paul Townend takes the ride aboard the ten-year-old for the first time in a race, and said: "I have sat on him before and he seems well. He's a former Gold Cup winner and it's a lovely ride to get. It's a cracking little race for Thurles.

"I obviously know Champagne Fever well but he's not the only one you would be fearful of. There may be only six runners, but it's a hot race."

Fever camp hoping for better luck

The enigmatic Champagne Fever announced himself as a top-notch prospect in 2012 when winning the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham before lighting up the festival with a scintillating display in the following year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle under a masterful Ruby Walsh ride.

The grey failed to make the track last season but Mullins is hopeful his luck will change. He said: "Champagne Fever is fit and well and we are looking forward to starting him off.

"Thurles hasn't been his luckiest track, as he fell there when going nicely behind Don Cossack in January 2015. We just want to get this first run out of the way for him today and hopefully he'll have a little bit more luck."

The pair are joined in the line-up by the Gigginstown House Stud pair of Wounded Warrior and Roi Des Francs, with Page Turner and Letter Of Credit completing the field.

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