Legendary rider Davy Russell announces retirement after winning at Thurles | Horse racing news

Edward Whitaker (

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Davy Russell celebrates Tiger Roll's famous victory in the 2019 Grand National at Aintree

Davy Russell celebrates Tiger Roll’s famous victory in the 2019 Grand National at Aintree

Edward Whitaker (

Davy Russell, one of the greatest jump jockeys of all time, has announced his retirement from riding aged 43 after a typically cool ride on Liberty Dance at the Thurles race on Sunday.

His exit from the weigh-in room has long been talked about, and it was only fitting that a runner so steeped in grassroots football would retire on such a low-key occasion at Thurles.

Victory in the Billy Harney Memorial Irish EBF Mares’ Novice Hurdle didn’t quite amount to a blaze of glory to prompt Russell’s signature wave and gaze to the skies – a tribute to a Western film he hailed. made his own – but catching everyone off guard felt rather appropriate.

The Gold Cup rider and two-time Grand National winner on Tiger Roll has been the most successful active jumping jockey in the weigh room and his bombshell comes just 24 hours after Frankie Dettori announced he would retire at the end of 2023.

Despite shooting a rare blank at the Cheltenham Festival last season, Russell scored exquisite big-race triumphs last season over Galvin in the Savills Chase and Conflated in the Irish Gold Cup, as well as Three Stripe Life in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

Jack Kennedy became Gordon Elliott’s first choice rider, but Russell continued to hold on, with Liberty Dance being his 26th winner of the season at Thurles. Given Kennedy’s promotion, he didn’t have the same quality of firepower to call upon, but the fact that he rolled was a testament to his resilience.

In September 2021, Russell returned to the saddle after spending 11 months on the sidelines with serious injuries. He had fractured his C6 and C7 vertebrae and dislocated his T1 when his mount Doctor Duffy crashed out of the 2020 Munster National, but defied the expectations of many onlookers to finally return.

He leaves the scene having also been the most successful active rider at the Cheltenham Festival with 25 wins.

Despite his age and catalog of injuries, he continued to ride with the hunger and panache of a man half his age.

Although Gold Cup winner on Jim Culloty-trained Lord Windermere in a dramatic 2014 edition – when it had to survive an investigation by stewards after crossing the second On His Own – the most legendary association de Russell finally came aboard Tiger Roll.

Together they secured a vintage slice of Aintree history in 2019 by becoming the first consecutive Grand National winner since Red Rum in 1974.

At Cheltenham last March, he seemed to have conjured a romantic climax to the Tiger story by leading the final close of the cross-country chase, only to have his stablemate Delta Work spoil the party under Jack Kennedy in the second colors of Gigginstown by Michael O’Leary. .

It may not have been the desired swan song, but the occasion is sure to be one of the most unforgettable moments in Cheltenham folklore.

John Grossick (

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Davy Russell with Gordon Elliott and the O'Learys

Davy Russell with Gordon Elliott and the O’Learys

John Grossick (

The Covid-19 pandemic denied Team Tiger Roll a chance to become the first to achieve three successive triumphs in the race in 2020, and Tiger Roll was barred from Aintree duty in 2021 and 2022 following objection of O’Leary to the mark it was awarded by the handicapper.

His retirement in March was expected and Russell’s own departure marks the end of a spectacular 23-year track career.

The proud County Cork native, father of five and married to Edelle, has become one of the most revered big race riders of recent times, starting with a maiden win aboard the Michael O trained Right ‘N’ ‘Connor. Royal at Gowran Park on May 20, 1999.

In all, Russell rode a whopping 58 Grade 1 winners, including a memorable victory in the 2019 Paris Grand Steep on Carriacou for Isabelle Pacault.

John Grossick (

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Davy Russell: the eighth most successful jump jockey of all time

Davy Russell: the eighth most successful jump jockey of all time

John Grossick (

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