Davy Russell announces retirement from the saddle after win at Thurles

Gold Cup and Grand National-winning rider Davy Russell announced his immediate retirement from the saddle following victory at Thurles.

The veteran jump jockey had taken the ride aboard Gordon Elliott's Liberty Dance, the 6-5 favourite in the Listed Billy Harney Memorial Irish EBF Mares Novice Hurdle.

The horse was a comfortable winner and on returning the the paddock Russell confirmed the ride was to be his last.

In 2014 Russell lifted the most coveted trophy in National Hunt racing when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard 20-1 shot Lord Windermere for trainer Jim Culloty.

More recently Russell has been associated with Gordon Elliott's Tiger Roll, the dual National hero who captured the famous race in both 2018 and 2019 with the jockey on board both times.

Russell, 43, was seriously hurt in 2020 when falling in the Munster National at Limerick, with the resulting serious neck injury including fractured and dislocated vertebrae that required surgery and a long period of recovery.

After missing the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, Russell returned to the saddle last September following an 11-month absence.

"It is a special time and it is great to do it here, as Thurles is the centre of our sport and it's great to do it here," he said.

"Racing was called off for so long and I had it in my mind to retire when I had my next winner.

"When I broke my neck I got a bit of a shock. People thought I was going to retire - if the injury stopped me fine, but I was happy to do it on my own terms.

"It is testament to my family who never questioned my decisions, albeit how strange at the time they seemed. But I was of the opinion I needed something to push me through the rehabilitation and the best incentive was getting back to ride.

"I didn't decide until the day I was declared to ride a horse again that I was going to come back because it was hard work. The flex in my neck wasn't working properly at the time, but I'm good now. I have aches and pains, but I'm not going to blame that, it is just time.

"I spoke to Gordon however long ago about retirement and he backed me the whole way. I'm delighted the winner was for Tim (O'Driscoll) who is a big part of the yard."

He went on: "I have five children and plenty of work to do. I'd love the romance of training, but to start back at zero at 43 years of age would be difficult. It would depend on if the kids wanted to ride in point to points or whatever in 10 years' time that I might train a few point to pointers or whatever.

"I'm at the very top now and to go back to zero (training) would be tough."

He added: "I dreamed about it (a career as a successful jockey), but never thought my dreams would come to fruition.

"I'll never forget my first winner or forget my last, but it is hard to get away from Tiger Roll."

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