YOUGHAL'S Davy Russell added his name to the annals of Grand National history on Saturday, by recording his first victory in the world’s most-famous steeplechase.
The Cork jockey guided the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll to success at Aintree, just holding off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company and David Mullins.
Russell becomes the first County Cork rider to win the Aintree Grand National, adding another remarkable feat to a glittering CV.
The victory puts the icing on what has been a superb season – and career – so far for the Youghal native, who was leading rider at Cheltenham last month, and is champion jockey-elect, here in Ireland.
Having also won a Cheltenham Gold Cup – and other prestigious races such as the Irish Champion Hurdle, Galway Plate and Irish Gold Cup – 38 year old Russell has achieved almost everything imaginable in racing.
His dad, Jerry, told the Evening Echo: "He has the full CV now. He doesn’t have to prove himself anymore. He has done it the hard way. It’s great for the town of Youghal.
"He’s a great ambassador for Youghal and for racing in general – it’s brilliant.’’
Following his triumph on Saturday evening, the winning-jockey told reporters of how he used to build Aintree-style fences from the grass cuttings at home as a kid.
For Jerry, childhood was much the same – he also liked to pretend that he was racing in the Grand National when riding his pony out in the garden.
‘‘I did the exact same thing. I would fall at the fence and everything! It’s a fact – David built his own fences.
"Ever since he was born (he loved horses). The first word he ever mentioned was ‘horsey’. He was infatuated."
Off the track, it has been a difficult time for the Russell family, following the passing of Davy’s mum, Phyllis, earlier this year.
Saturday’s win was understandably an emotional one, for the entire clan, who gathered to mark their hero’s latest achievement, at their family home, in Youghal, on Saturday night.
"I watched it at home. I would have loved to have been there, but I couldn’t make it. There was a crowd called down and there were neighbours who came in and we’ve a niece home from Australia.
"We did crack open a couple of bottles of champagne. We had a great get-together. He has had a great year.
"I’d say that half the town backed him on Saturday. I had €25 each way on him! A girl in the betting shop told me that people were backing Davy Russell – they weren’t backing the horse at all," Jerry laughs.
The Grand National-winning jockey was in action at Tramore on Sunday, where he completed a double on the card.