March 16, 2023
Cheltenham Festival 2023: Davy Russell hits back at Michael OLeary over retirement U-turn
Veteran jockey Davy Russell has hit back at Michael O’Leary’s criticism of his retirement U-turn saying his wife “was fully behind me.” The outspoken O’Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud and boss of Ryanair, said 43-year-old Russell should have put his family first and stayed in retirement when he decided to ride at another Cheltenham Festival . Russell said he had considered his family before deciding to return to help fill the void left after Gordon Elliott’s stable jockey broke his leg in February. Russell, who has ridden 25 Festival winners, said on ITV Racing: “I have about as much respect for Michael O'Leary's opinion as he has for my opinion. Cheltenham Festival 2023: Punter wins over £40,000 from 50p accumulator Cheltenham Festival 2023 Gold Cup sweepstake kit: Download for FREE here "I didn't see any father of the year awards being thrown out yet and I'm happy enough with my responsibilities at home. "I was off for 18 days. I was riding 18 days beforehand. I had retired but it was just unfortunate for Jack [Kennedy]. Gordon [Elliott] was in a predicament and didn't want to launch the young lads into that position. We had a chat about it and I spoke to Edelle before I spoke to Gordon and she was fully behind me." Russell has not ridden a winner in the first two days of the meeting but his experience is invaluable to the Elliott stable. He rode the O’Leary-owned Tiger Roll to win two Grand Nationals and he is set to partner Conflated for the owner in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup. Yet O’Leary said on Tuesday: “He’d retired and, personally, I wish he’d stayed retired. He has a young family with young children and at a certain point in time you should put your family first and not your riding career. “When you get out at that age in your early 40s you don’t bounce, you don’t mend the way you did before. Particularly if you’re married and you have children you put your family first. “He’s had a glorious career and he has nothing to achieve by coming back and I don’t think he should’ve come out of retirement.” Read More Tall order for 6ft 4in jockey as he gets long odds for Cheltenham triumph Read More Cheltenham Festival 2023: JP McManus’s kind gesture to entrust schoolboy with ride on 70th winner Read More Harry Cobden considering appeal against four-day whip ban for ride Paul Nicholls said was "brilliant" Read More Cheltenham Gold Cup 2023: Select the winner with our new Pick Your Horse tool Read More Cheltenham Festival 2023: Red wave greets The Real Whacker after win for colourful owner
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