One of the most decorated jockeys to come out of Ireland has announced his retirement from the saddle with immediate effect.
Davy Russell, who is most famous for winning back-to-back Aintree Grand Nationals, has decided to call time on the sport in a weekend which saw legendary jockey Frankie Dettori also announce his retirement plans for the end of 2023.
The 52-year-old heroic Italian announced he will retire in November of next year following an illustrious career.
Probably the most notable moment for Dettori was riding all seven winners at the 1996 British Champions Day at Ascot – and his notorious talent skyrocketed from there.
Russell, however, has a quieter persona and is rarely seen in the spotlight – but has a relentless array of honours to his name.
Russell began his racing career as a point-to-point amateur jockey in Ireland, winning his first race in 1999 before moving to England as a professional.
His first Cheltenham victory came in 2006 and he has had a further 24 winners at the festival since.
A huge favourite to perform well at the festival, Russell has had at least one winner every year up to 2020, apart from 2019, with his only Gold Cup win coming in 2014 on Lord Windermere.
He picked up the leading jockey award at the festival in 2018 after grasping four wins on Presenting Percy, Balko Des Flos, Delta Work and The Storyteller.
The most outstanding of all was his consecutive victories at the Aintree Grand National when he won the 2018 edition as the oldest jockey in the race – with Tiger Roll, the smallest horse.
The duo then returned in 2019 to win again, becoming a rather iconic pair in Ireland and beyond.
The win gifted Russell the honour of being the first jockey since 1974 to win back-to-back Grand Nationals on the same horse, the previous record held by Brian Fletcher on Red Rum.
His retirement could easily have come earlier than planned, after suffering a serious neck injury and fractured vertebrae in a fall in 2020 which led him to spending 11 months out of the sport.
To come back from such an injury and onto the saddle again says a lot about Russell’s character.
There have been so many massive achievements he has accomplished in his time, with honours such as the Irish Gold Cup, French Gold Cup and Irish Champion Hurdle, to name a few.
Russell finishes his career ranked as the ninth jump jockey with the most wins.
Some significant names grace said list, with Ruby Walsh, Richard Dunwoody and Paul Carberry all included in the register which is topped by AP McCoy.
1,579 wins is a considerable amount in one’s career and his final race on Liberty Dance at Thurles on 18 December was, of course, a comfortable win.
Few jockeys will have the prestige and reputation that Russell holds, and the horse racing world were blessed to witness his talent over a career that spanned two decades.