Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 March 2018

BHA insist Russell is not fit to ride in Grand National

Davy Russell will miss the Grand National meeting at Aintree after failing to gain medical clearance from the British Horseracing Authority as a result of an injury he sustained at the Cheltenham Festival.

"Looks like now, as of this morning, I'm not going to be allowed ride in Aintree, by the British authorities. Russell revealed to RTE yesterday.

"The sickening thing about it is, Thursday, when there's Grade 1s going on in Aintree, I'll be over here riding in Thurles. They're [the British authorities] not happy. I went through all the checks that we have to go through. I went to an independent specialist over here to speak to about my injury and he was quite happy for me to go ahead and ride.

"That was grand and then I got a phonecall Monday evening to say I had to be in London on Thursday to see another independent specialist. And they have come up with a thing that I'm not eligible to ride in England."

Russell partnered Lord Windermere to win the RSA Chase on the Wednesday of Cheltenham, but suffered a heavy final-flight fall from Un Beau Matin in the Coral Cup later that afternoon.

Although he returned to action the following day, Russell had to be taken to Cheltenham General Hospital for treatment after two rides, when it was revealed he had sustained a punctured lung.

After receiving medical clearance in Ireland and opting to postpone further treatment until the end of the season, he was back in action on the Thursday after Cheltenham, partnering Rebel Fitz to finish second at Cork, and has four booked rides on the first day of the Fairyhouse Easter Festival today.

Meanwhile, Danny Mullins is looking for his first Grade One win aboard Mount Benbulben in the Powers Gold Cup this afternoon.

The young jockey picked up the plum job as retained pilot for leading owner Barry Connell halfway through this season and recent high-profile purchases such as Golantilla and Our Conor are likely to propel him into the big time.

Mullins has already won a decent race on Mount Benbulben, the first time he sat on him at Thurles, and conditions would appear to be in his favour once more in the feature race on the opening day of the Easter Festival. "When you think of Mount Benbulben, you think about his jumping but he jumped well for me the last day so I'm not too worried about that," said Mullins.

"Given a clear round I think he's as good as anything else so we'll jump around first and then we'll see. He gave me a great feel at Thurles and I'm hoping for a good run, with a bit of luck we'll be thereabouts. I've ridden in plenty of Grade Ones but he'd be my best chance I'd have thought.

"Before declarations I'd have thought Arvika Ligeonniere was the one we had to beat but he's out now so I suppose it would be Oscars Well. He's maybe not quite achieved what they thought he would over fences, but if it all came together for him you couldn't write him off and I know Willie (Mullins) is happy with Mikael D'Haguenet, but you never really know with him."

Elsewhere, Pandorama makes his latest return in a troublesome time in the Imperial Call Chase at Cork.

Trainer Noel Meade has been adept at nursing horses back from injury but has had his work cut out with this gelding, which marched through the novice hurdling and chasing ranks but has had few tries on the big stage. With the benefit of one moderate run in 2010, Pandorama managed to claim his biggest career success in the Lexus Chase and finish seventh in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

A leg injury intervened and Meade was only able to bring him back in time for the Lexus at the end of December, where he struggled behind Tidal Bay.

One more niggle later, and Pandorama is back for a clash with Roi Du Mee and Call The Police in this Grade Three feature. "I hope he'll be ready enough to give a good account of himself," said Meade.

Irish Independent

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