Brilliant Davy Russell delivered on Galvin

Kevin Murphy reviews a busy Christmas period for those involved in Cork racing
Brilliant Davy Russell delivered on Galvin

Galvin ridden by Davy Russell and A Plus Tard ridden by Rachel Blackmore in the closing stages of the race. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

A RIDING masterclass from Davy Russell ensured Galvin arrived with a timely run to edge out odds on favourite A Plus Tard to win another epic Savills Chase over the Christmas racing. 

The 42-year-old Youghal rider needed all his experience and strength to win the highlight of the four day Leopardstown meeting. 

Russell brought Galvin wide into the straight and he galvanised one more sustained effort from the doughty stayer to blindside A Plus Tard, who had knuckled down to just get on top of the obstinate Kemboy. 

There was a short head in it at the end, with Kemboy less than a length back in third. 

This victory meant so much to Russell who spent nearly a year on the sidelines with a serious neck injury. It was a first Grade 1 win for the 42-year-old since Samcro's similarly last-gasp Marsh Novices' Chase victory at Cheltenham in 2020.

An emotional Russell said: "That was mighty and I'm delighted. It's very special to win for an owner like Ronnie Bartlett, I can't stress that enough. 

"He has been a fabulous supporter of me personally and the yard. 

He's a very good friend so it's great to be able to do it on the big stage for him. 

"Everyone has done so much work at the yard to get this horse here. It’s been some team effort."

Davy Russell and owner Ronnie Bartlett celebrate after winning with Galvin. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Davy Russell and owner Ronnie Bartlett celebrate after winning with Galvin. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Cork man Joe Donnelly has a number of high-class horses and Shishkin put up another scintillating performance during the week. 

He quashed all worries about his well-being when running out a hugely impressive winner of the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park. 

Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old stamped a huge claim to be crowned the best two-mile chaser in training.

Henderson had wanted to run his stable star in Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, but in the week leading up to that, the Seven Barrows trainer felt the Arkle winner needed a bit longer to get up to full speed. 

Yet again Henderson’s judgement proved spot on, and while he was given a late scare by the Kempton ground turning testing, he had a smile from ear to ear after the race. 

Bookmakers now make Shishkin their 5-4 favourite (from 7-4) for the Champion Chase, with Betfair a fraction bigger at 6-4.

 Shishkin and Nico De Boinville win the Doom Bar Maghull Novicesí Steeple Chase at Aintree. Picture: Healy Racing.
Shishkin and Nico De Boinville win the Doom Bar Maghull Novicesí Steeple Chase at Aintree. Picture: Healy Racing.

Tornado Flyer shocked his rivals as he triumphed as a 28-1 outsider in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park.

Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by his nephew Danny, Tornado Flyer came home nine lengths clear of dual winner Clan Des Obeaux, while Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Minella Indo and 3-1 favourite Chantry House failed to fire. 

The winning rider was completing a double on the day, having struck earlier on Jacamar on what was his first trip to Kempton.

Another Joe Donnelly horse to really catch the eye was Haut En Couleurs in a Beginners Chase at Leopardstown. 

Paul Townend, also had a brilliant week sat second on last season’s Triumph Hurdle third, and his mount readily went past the front-running Mt Leinster off the home turn. 

Paul Townend, onboard Haut En Couleurs, celebrates his success. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Paul Townend, onboard Haut En Couleurs, celebrates his success. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Gentleman Du Mee gave chase to the winner on the run-in but never looked a danger and was five and a half lengths adrift at the line. 

The winning son of Saint des Saints was cut to 12/1, from 33s, for the Sporting Life Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

On the final day of the Leopardstown Festival Sharjah finished with a flourish to secure a historic fourth successive victory in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown. Only Istabraq and Hurricane Fly had previously won the Grade One contest on four occasions – and even that legendary pair did not manage to win four on the spin.

The Willie Mullins-trained Sharjah was not even favourite when triumphing in 2018, 2019 and 2020 – but off the back of winning his second Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, the eight-year-old was the 5-6 market leader on his return to Foxrock. 

Ridden with plenty of confidence by the trainer’s son Patrick, Sharjah began to make inroads racing down the back straight, but was still only fourth rounding the turn for home

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