Davy Russell has reached an agreement with owner Dai Walters
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
By Lee Mottershead 8:00AM 15 SEP 2016
DAVY RUSSELL is to become the latest top Irish-based rider to start spending more time in Britain after leading jumps owner Dai Walters secured an agreement with the Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey.
Ireland’s former champion will this season ride whenever available for Walters, whose string includes horses trained by Nicky Henderson, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Dan Skelton.
This follows Tuesday’s announcement that Adrian Heskin, who worked for prominent Irish owner Barry Connell until April this year, will take over from Paddy Brennan as Tom George’s main rider.
Russell, retained by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud until losing that position to Bryan Cooper at the end of 2013, will continue to work for trainer Charles Byrnes in Ireland, as well as owners Chris Jones and Philip Reynolds. However, British racegoers are set to see more of him with Walters having informed his trainers Russell is now his first-choice jockey.
“If he comes over he’ll ride for me,” said Walters. “We’ve been friends for 20 years and I rate him as one of the top jockeys. There’s no point buying a racing car unless you have a driver. I can’t use Tony McCoy now because he’s retired.”
Russell, who maintained his excellent Cheltenham Festival record by winning both the Coral Cup and Pertemps Final last season, said: “It’s all about trying to find a nice horse. Dai invests an awful lot of money in the game and as an owner he has frequently come across good horses. Both of us are thinking the same way, so it would be great if we could join forces with one of those horses.
“The way life has gone I can be at a British racecourse quicker than an Irish track. Going over to Britain isn’t the huge issue it might have been in the past.”