Davy Russell returns to the saddle as Rebel jockeys shine at Fairyhouse

Joe Seward reviews an epic day of National Hunt action where Paul Townend delivered a double along with wins for Maxine O'Sullivan, Denis O'Regan and Darragh O'Keeffe 
Davy Russell returns to the saddle as Rebel jockeys shine at Fairyhouse

Davy Russell on board Jazzy Matty during his first post-retirement ride in The Race Displays Hurdle. Picture: INPHO/Peter Mooney

CORK jockeys and trainers were to the fore at Saturday's high-quality National Hunt card at Fairyhouse, where the featured €80,000 Dan and Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase was the traditional mid-January highlight.

In the lead-up, the rhetoric was dominated by the return to the saddle of Youghal jockey Davy Russell who had retired on a winner before Christmas at Thurles overshadowing even Lionel Messi on that incredible Sunday afternoon!

An injury to Jack Kennedy at Naas saw Leeside legend Russell propelled back into the saddle after consultation with Gordon Elliot given the major festival meetings upcoming at Leopardstown and Cheltenham.  His invaluable experience is crucial at Grade One level.

Russell's first ride back on recent course winner Jazzy Matty proved to be underwhelming. The pair faded into fifth behind the very impressive winner Blood Destiny partnered by East Cork pilot Paul Townend. This win along with Blood Destiny's impressive debut victory in Cork saw his odds trimmed to 9/2 for the Triumph Hurdle. 

Blood Destiny carries the colours of the Roaringwater Syndicate involving the family of the late Cork owner Archie O'Leary, who owned the great Florida Pearl. 


Paul Townend went on to complete a double again on Flame Bearer, who survived a bad mistake at the last to record a facile 38-lengths success and redeem his big reputation after a blip at Naas. The application of a tongue tie, the drop in trip, and the omission of the hood he wore in Naas resulted in a much-improved performance. 

He adds to the already ultra-potent Willie Mullins novice chasing department and races like the Arkle, the Turner's and the Ryanair at Fairyhouse at Easter all figure as options.

On a day of significant Cork success, Lombardstown father and daughter Eugene and Maxine O'Sullivan combined with Corbett's Cross. 

Corbett's Cross had lowered the much-vaunted Seabank Bistro at Limerick over Christmas in a Maiden hurdle. Clearly relishing the soft underfoot conditions he ran out a cosy winner of the Philip O'Connor Memorial Handicap Hurdle and looks a really progressive type. 

Trainer Eugene O'Sullivan. Picture: Healy Racing.
Trainer Eugene O'Sullivan. Picture: Healy Racing.

Youghal's Denis O'Regan kept the Cork theme ticking over by landing the featured race on the aptly named Rebel Gold, who again displayed his bold accurate jumping prowess to win readily from the gallant grey Dunvegan, who loves it around Fairyhouse. 

The winner is trained by Patrick Foley son of the late Tom Foley who will forever be associated with the legendary Danoli. 

Rebel Gold had poignantly given Tom Foley his last winner at his local track Gowran Park. O'Regan, one of the great hold-up jockeys, recorded his 12th winner of the season but on this occasion showed he's equally adept setting fractions from the front.

The final act from a Cork perspective came in the penultimate race when Doneraile native Darragh O'Keeffe made most of the running on Must Be Obeyed. 

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