DAVY RUSSELL: Cheltenham Disappointment

Yesterday was one of those days…… It all started really well in Gordon’s (Elliott) when I was re-united with my old pal Tiger Roll. Schooling him over a few hurdles ahead of his return in the Boyne Hurdle on Sunday gave me some buzz. However, as you have probably seen in the press, things didn’t really go to plan when I met with my surgeon later in the day. Although he was delighted with the progress I have made, he felt that I wasn’t quite where I should be in order to ride at Cheltenham next month.

It is frustrating as I feel I have made giant strides in recent weeks on the road to recovery. However, after talking things through with Gordon, we both feel it is sensible to follow advice and miss Cheltenham as it is only weeks away. To ride horses of the calibre of Envoi Allen (pictured below) you have to be 100% fit and I would be doing the team a disservice to ride when I’m not ready. Obviously, it is hugely disappointing, but it is important to make the call early. I will continue to work hard on my recovery and look forward to getting back in the saddle the following month. I remain so grateful for all the extraordinary medical attention I have received and thank you for all your lovely messages of support.

Looking ahead to the weekend’s action and it’s a shame that Gowran has been abandoned on Saturday, but there is still some great racing to enjoy both on both sides of the Irish Sea. Here are my thoughts on the pick of Saturday’s action, I’ll be back on Saturday evening looking ahead to more top class action on Sunday from Navan and Newbury.



1.50pm Ascot (Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase)

With the ground already heavy in places and some rain forecast, this will take some getting. For that reason, I’d be keen on siding with those horses who are proven over the trip and on the ground. The likes of Full Back and Remastered have to step up in class, but tick those stamina and ground boxes.

2.05pm Haydock (Rendlesham Hurdle)

The top two (Emitom and Lisnagar Oscar) have both been below par this season, but have had wind operations so could easily bounce back here. I’d be interested in Main Fact (pictured below) now he switches back to going left-handed again. If you put a line through his Ascot run, he looks the one to beat with conditions in his favour.

2.25pm Ascot (Swinley Chase)

I was really taken with the way that Jerrysback ran the last day after such a long absence. He is proven on the ground, will relish the step up in trip and should take plenty of beating here.

2.40pm Haydock (Grand National Trial)

Only the nine runners and this will take plenty of getting. You can make a case out for plenty of them, but my eye is drawn to Achille who ran a cracker at Warwick the last day after such a long absence. I suppose the only worry is the dreaded bounce, but if he reappears in the same form he may take some beating.

3.35pm Ascot (Ascot Chase)

The stage looks set for Cyrname to bounce back here at a track he relishes. He ran below par in the King George the last day, but he’s had some time to get over that and should take plenty of pegging back here.