Horse racing legend Davy Russell has retired from the sport for a second time - officially this time - after the Grand National Festival at Aintree last week, bringing the curtain down on an illustrious career that included two Grand National victories and a Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup win.
The Irish jockey leaves racing with an incredible legacy, including back-to-back Grand National wins in 2018 and 2019 aboard the legendary Tiger Roll, who was inducted into the Aintree Hall of Fame over the weekend. Russell also rode 22 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, which involved a triumph in the Gold Cup on Lord Windermere in 2014, one of the greatest rides we will ever see.
His grace and composure in the saddle were a joy to watch and everyone will feel grateful that they got to witness some incredible racing moments thanks to Russell.
The 43-year-old was able to bow out of racing on a high on Merseyside as he claimed two Grade 1 victories with Gerri Colombe and Irish Point for Gordon Elliott and Cullentra House. He suffered in his final Grand National ride as he was unseated on Elliott’s 11-1 shot Galvin, but left the circuit for a final time with immense pride. That picture of him smoking a cigar will remain with us forever.
There is no question that Russell joins Ruby Walsh, Sir Anthony McCoy and Barry Geraghty as one of the all-time greats of this generation and he will be sorely missed.
Back-to-back Grand Nationals and a place in history
Russell was a great character and an excellent ambassador for the sport. Having retired in December he could have easily said no to Elliott when the trainer needed help after Jack Kennedy suffered his fifth career leg break but, with him being who he is, he didn’t hesitate to come back and help out.
He filled in for Kennedy while offering further support to Elliott’s other young jockeys in Jordan Gainford and Sam Ewing, with Gainford naming Russell as his idol. His skills as a jockey were incredible and alongside his great character, youngsters couldn't have anyone better to look up to.
The three-time Irish champion jockey lives and breathes horses, with their welfare paramount to him. His character was summed up at Aintree on Saturday when after being unseated at the first fence by Galvin in the National, he was seen helping the staff set up for the next race.
Racing won’t be the same without him and everyone will be hoping that we will start to see the Irish star pop up on our TV screens more often alongside the likes of McCoy and Walsh to bring his insight to the UK’s greatest races.
Russell has enjoyed an incredible career, one that has been filled with highs and lows. His presence on the racecourse will be greatly missed but his achievements will only continue to inspire the next generation like Gainford, and they couldn’t ask for a better role model. For now he leaves Irish racing in the very capable hands of Kennedy, Paul Townend and Rachael Blackmore. He will have certainly have been a great influence to these outstanding jockeys.
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