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Davy Russell breaks down the Cheltenham races of the week

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

20:57 9 Mar 2020

Davy Russell has told Off The Ball that anything but riding winners at Cheltenham will constitute a failure and has picked the races that he think will stand out this week.

The Grand National-winning jockey joined us to discuss everything from Presenting Percy to his routine during racing's biggest week.

As to the quality this year, Russell was effusive in his praise.

"I think we are really boxing above our weight [in terms of Irish riders and owners.]

"I think that the quality of horse is just second to none. I think that is showing with the horses that we are sending over for the festival this year.

"All three Novice Hurdle grades from the 2 mile, the 2.5 mile and the 3 mile are all very strong.

"The 3 mile Novice Chase this year is an exceptional race, with Allaho and Minella Indo from Ireland and then Champ from England.

"The 2.5 mile race, which is usually a second-tier race, but this year it looks as if it is a really good race because Faugheen is the leading Irish hope, with Samcro from Gordon Elliott's and the English have some good horses.

"The Gold Cup has strength in depth to it that it has not had in a number of years.

"The Champion Hurdle is probably the most open, but then there are 17 runners in it - and I have never noticed 17 runners in a Champion Hurdle race, which makes it extra competitive!

"I would say that whoever wins it would be a worthy Champion Hurdler!"

Davy Russell: a successful Cheltenham

Russell himself is a creature of habit, staying with the same people every year at the festival, but will only leave satisfied if he is victorious this week.

"Not leaving anything behind," would constitute a good week for Russell this year.

"With Delta Work, I felt like he could have won an RSA last year. It is a lonely enough place to be, not riding a winner at a festival.

"I am one of the leading riders in the country, numbers-wise [...] and that means that you need to ride winners at the festival.

"Coming out of there without winners is not a good week for me."

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