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Davy Russell Top Cheltenham Festival Jockey Odds

davy-russellJockey Profile: Davy Russell

Number of Cheltenham Festival winners: 10

Lowest Riding Weight: 10-8

Style of Riding: Never say die

One word to describe him: Powerful

Regarded as the most competitive jockey in the weighing room, the retained rider of the sturdy Gigginstown House Stud operation is always a busy man at the Cheltenham Festival. He holds one of the best jobs in the business riding for the Michael O’Leary-backed operation, which has some of the strongest firepower on the National Hunt scene.

Since turning professional in 2003, Russell has been firing in the winners on a daily basis. His first retained job was provided by British-based trainer Ferdy Murphy, who he had notable success with, including finishing second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Ballinclay King in 2003.

He opted for a return to familiar shores in 2004 when switching back to Ireland and it’s been a decision that proved a career changing one as his success in the saddle has sent him right to the top.

His meteoric rise culminated in him becoming Irish Champion Jockey in 2012, after five straight years of finishing runner-up.

Memorable Cheltenham Festival rides?

When you think Davy Russell winning at the festival, his efforts in the saddle on Weapon Amnesty automatically spring to mind.

Having broken his festival duck when partnering the Philip Rothwell-trained Native Jack to victory in the Cross Country Chase in 2006, Russell’s jockeyship at the Olympics of jump racing improved immensely in the following years.

That theory was in full show when driving Weapon Amnesty to land the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2009.

Russell timed his run to perfection on the gutsy stayer to power clear over the final flight but once in front the horse almost pulled himself up on the run-in.

This allowed the game runner-up Pride Of Dulcote to come back at him before Russell used all his strength and power to urge his mount to rally in the closing stages and win by half a length.

Most jockeys would have been caught out by the horse’s cheeky idling but Russell reacted with strength and composure to the delight of the horse’s backers.

Russell’s partnership with the Charles Byrne-trained superstar reached new levels the following season when they teamed up to land a very hot renewal of the RSA Chase.

This success was far more straightforward as the horse was in his element under Russell as the pair pulled seven lengths clear of Burton Port and subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run come the finish line.

Many shrewd pundits feel he would have given Russell his first Gold Cup winner if not sustaining a serious tendon injury the following season.

The one that got away.

Type of horses he excels on?

Consistently strong over fences and hurdles, Russell is a man for all occasions and has developed a very strong relationship with O’Leary due to his brilliance on many of his horses.

If pushed, he probably excels more on a three-mile chaser rather than a two-mile hurdler but that shouldn’t put you off backing his tactical nous over the shorter distances.

What trainers does he ride for?

Gigginstown House Stud has horses with a variety of trainers in Ireland, including Willie Mullins, Charles Byrnes and Mouse Morris.

Best chances at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival?

Russell will be looking forward to riding Sir Des Champs this season in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after missing the ride through injury in 2013. However, Mullins’ chaser looks to have it all to do to improve on his second place finish last year.

One of the Gigginstown House Stud hurdlers to keep an eye on is last season’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Rule The World, who looks likely to be aimed at the World Hurdle.

The 25/1 available may be shrewd investment.

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