It was a long time coming, but Davy Russell finally picked up the Holland Cooper Leading Jockey Award at Cheltenham Festival in 2018. The 39-year-old has enjoyed a stellar career on the saddle to date, with wins in the Gold Cup and Grand National already under his belt.
Russell picked up four wins during last year’s event, matching that of Jack Kennedy but took the crown virtue to more second-place finishes. It was Russell’s best outing at Prestbury Park, beating his previous record of three wins in 2014. Let’s take a closer look back at Russell’s four wins, but before we do, check out all the latest markets including Cheltenham horse racing on Betfair.
Presenting Percy – RSA Chase
Russell had to wait until the second day of the festival to land his first winner, steering Presenting Percy to victory in the RSA Chase. If truth be told, Russell cruised to victory by a full seven lengths from nearest challenger Monalee, after he started off near the back of the pack before charging through to win in style. It was Russell’s third win in the Chase, after successes with Weapons Amnesty in 2010, and Lord Windermere in 2013.
Delta Work – Pertemps Final
Russell’s next win was a lot closer than his first, pipping Glenloe by a nose to give Delta Work the honors in the Pertemps Final. It was a gripping race that was only determined by a photo-finish, and it felt like an eternity before the win was finally awarded to Delta Work. The 6/1 shot started the day at 14/1, and Russell justified the five-year-old being backed heavily on the day with a brilliant win.
Balko Des Flos – Ryanair Chase
Russell equaled his previous Cheltenham best of three wins, as he guided Balko Des Flos home in the Ryanair Chase. The result was rarely in doubt as Russell edged ahead with three to go, cruising to the line to take the win by four-and-a-half lengths from Un de Sceaux in second with Cloudy Dream third, eight lengths off the winner.
“For a normal Cheltenham Festival, I would have fancied Balko Des Flos. We thought on nice ground there would be some improvement in him. I thought his chance had lessened given the more rain that fell,” Russell told TimeForm afterward.
The Storyteller – Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate
For Russell and trainer Gordon Elliot, the third day of the festival capped off a hat-trick of wins, after The Storyteller tasted victory in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate. The win capped off a brilliant week for Russell, with this arguably his best ride of the entire week. After an unspectacular start, Russell kept in the reckoning and made his move just after the last and eased past Splash of Ginge to make it four wins for the week.
Holland Cooper Leading Jockey Award
The last day of the festival couldn’t see Russell pick up another winner, but his win was confirmed after Kennedy only picked up one victory on the final day. Here’s what Russell said about the award: “You need to get over the three (winners) to win it. I’ve had three winners here before and finished second in it.
“Jack was really close but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to win it in other years, he’s only young.
“It’s very nice to win it at this stage of my career,” he told RTE.