Gordon Elliott: Davy Russell is a brilliant jockey and a great person

Gordon Elliott said he is “delighted” to see Davy Russell retire from the saddle on his own terms and insists his good friend will remain a part of the powerful Cullentra House operation.

The Gold Cup and Grand National-winning rider announced his immediate retirement from the saddle following victory on the Elliott-trained Liberty Dance at Thurles on Sunday.

The 43-year-old, perhaps best known for landing the National in 2018 and 2019 with Tiger Roll, and the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup with the Jim Culloty-trained Lord Windermere, will not be lost to the sport, however.

Elliott said: "The feedback he gave has always been invaluable. He has been a big part of the team here at Cullentra for the last 10 or 12 years - and he is still going to be part of the team.

"He's still going to have an involvement. Hopefully we will work closely with him, on what level we are just not quite sure yet, but he will still have something to do with it."

Russell has been instrumental in helping Elliott's rise to prominence over the last decade and the trainer was quick to pay tribute.

"He has been a big part of my team since I started training and he has been a friend as well as a colleague. I rode with him as an amateur," said Elliott.

"He has been as much as a friend as anything else. He is a brilliant jockey and a great person. I'm sad to see him retiring but delighted to see him going out on his own terms.

"He's a brilliant jockey and a great horseman. He could do things on horses that other people couldn't.

"There was never anything wrong with the bottle. The body slowed down, but the bottle was 100 per cent and so it is very sad to see him go.

"He has brilliant hands and transmitted confidence to a horse, and you only have to look at what he has achieved to see what a great jockey he was. He was brilliant."

The old adage that good jockeys make good horses was certainly true in Russell's case and winning the world's most famous steeplechase back-to-back with Tiger Roll - who also won five times at the Cheltenham Festival - put both Russell and Elliott in the consciousness of the wider public.

"He will tell you what he rode and what it meant to him, but Tiger Roll was special to him, I'd say," said Elliott. "He gave us all some of our best days and we will always be grateful to Davy."

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