Davy Russell has continued his magnificent season by steering Tiger Roll to a thrilling victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase, the Grand National at Aintree.
A dual Irish champion jockey, Russell’s was famously informed he had lost the job as No.1 jockey for Gigginstown House Stud over a cup of tea with owner Michael O’Leary late in 2013.
His skills in the saddle have never been in doubt and just a few weeks after claiming the Leading Jockey Award at the Cheltenham Festival, the 38-year-old secured a narrow success aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained Gigginstown-owned runner.
“This is the race,” Russell said.
“As a kid, when you got the first cut of grass, we always used to gather the cuttings and pretend they were Grand National fences,. It was the only time I liked collecting the cuttings, but all those people saying this is my first National – I’ve won it thousands of times in my head!
“As a jockey this is the one you want to win, especially for someone like me having 14 goes.
“The Gold Cup is the Gold Cup and I’ve been lucky enough to win that (Lord Windermere 2014), but the National is so hard to win.”
It has not all been plain sailing for Russell in recent weeks.
His mother Phyllis died at the beginning of March, while his close friend Pat Smullen, a multiple champion Irish Flat jockey, was diagnosed with a tumour last month and Russell dedicated the win to him.