"Irish racing is riding the crest of a wave" - John Duggan on Davy Russell

Off the Ball's resident racing expert spoke about Russell, Elliott and the state of play for Irish racing

BY Ciaran Bradley 6 days ago, 12:39 16 Apr 2018

Newstalk Sport's racing expert John Duggan believes that Irish racing is 'riding the crest of a wave' and that no-one shows that more clearly than Grand National champion jockey, Davy Russell.

Russell finished the Aintree showpiece by winning with the Michael O'Leary-owned Tiger Roll. Trainer Gordon Elliott had been unsure about buying the horse in the first place, but Michael and brother Eddie O'Leary have been vindicated at jump racing's foremost meeting.

However, on OTB AM, it was Russell for whom John had the warmest words following a weekend that was another fillip for Irish racing.

"Most people would agree that he spoke very eloquently after the race and he has just had an amazing second wind in his career. New Year's Eve 2013, Michael O'Leary brings him for 'a cup of tea' - in other words, the sack. He got his head down, didn't sulk, he was mature about it and said 'I believe in myself, I'm going to stick with it.' A few months later, he won the Gold Cup on Lord Windermere."

For anyone out there believing that their individual race is run, Davy would appear to be the prime example of how anyone can change their story.

"He was the oldest jockey in the race, on the smallest horse, in his fourteenth attempt in the Grand National. He was saying after the race that he would think about it too much - he would go up the inside or try to be clever. He just said 'I'm on a horse that stays,' so he went right down the middle. He's just riding with supreme confidence."

In John's opinion, it is not just Davy that is brimming with confidence - Irish racing is currently at a very high tide.

"Once again it's [Gordon] Elliott and [Willie] Mullins. In the Irish Grand National, there was a head in it. In the English Grand National, there was a head in it. Irish racing is just on the crest of a wave at the moment. We had the first three in the Melbourne Cup, we had seventeen winners at Cheltenham against the English, and now we have the first four and the sixth-placed finisher at Aintree as well. It's just remarkable."

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