Davy Russell: rode as Gigginstown’s number-one jockey for seven yearsPICTURE: Caroline Norris
Davy Russell 'shocked' by Gigginstown split
Russell, who will bring to an end a seven-year stint as Gigginstown’s number one jockey at Tramore on Wednesday, said he was told by O’Leary in person after winning the beginners’ chase at Punchestown on Tuesday.
“After the race, Michael asked me to come and have a cup of tea and then told me of his decision,” said Russell. “I was shocked and had no idea it was going to happen.
“I am very disappointed. I am not disappointed with Michael O’Leary, if that’s the way he feels, then that’s the way he feels. But I am disappointed for myself.
“I’m a big boy, I know what I am going to have to do now and that is to work very hard. I still have a lot of belief in my own ability and am confident plenty of people will continue to use me.”
In an enduring and successful partnership, Russell and Gigginstown teamed up for Grade 1 successes on both sides of the Irish Sea, including Cheltenham Festival victories with Sir Des Champs, First Lieutenant and Weapon’s Amnesty.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Russell, who will continue to ride for Gigginstown, added: “I rode a lot of winners for them, but those three probably gave me my best days. I had two great days with Sir Des Champs, the Hennessy at Leopardstown and the Jewson at Cheltenham.
“Another great day was winning the Neptune at Cheltenham on First Lieutenant, but the best was on Charles Byrnes’ Weapon’s Amnesty. I won on him twice at the Cheltenham Festival, the Albert Bartlett Hurdle and the SunAlliance Novice Chase. He was an absolute flying machine and it was a real shame he didn’t stay sound.’’
The announcement has fuelled speculation that Bryan Cooper, increasingly a deputy for Russell in the Gigginstown colours, would be promoted to the number-one position. Boylesports make him their 1-3 favourite to succeed Russell, with the rest of their market featuring Jason Maguire (5-2), Paul Townend (5-1), Mark Walsh (16-1) and Davy Condon (25-1).