Russell bags hat-trick as Tofino takes Troytown
DAVY Russell showed exactly why he is champion jockey by booting home a sparkling 25/1 treble at Navan that included a gritty win for Tofino Bay in the featured Troytown Chase.
All of Russell's three winners sported the colours of retained owners Gigginstown House Stud, and in promising novices Don Cossack and Sword Of Destiny, connections have a lot to look forward to.
However, this was very much Tofino Bay's day and the Dessie Hughes-trained gelding overcame his inexperience over fences to claim the Ladbrokes-sponsored feature.
The nine-year-old, plagued by injuries earlier in his career, was having only his third race over the larger obstacles, but relished the testing conditions. Jumping superbly, he was always travelling well, not far off the pace set by Glenquest and Zardsky.
And when he took up the running at the second-last fence, it looked as though he would win comfortably.
However, Tony McCoy – who made a late switch to fly over from England to ride for his boss JP McManus – produced Like Your Style with a strong challenge on the long run-in after the final fence.
Tofino Bay looked in trouble when Russell lost his whip, but proving the master of improvisation, the Cork jockey urged on his willing companion with the palm of his right hand and the gutsy 8/1 shot proved up to the task as he held off the runner-up by half a length.
The front two pulled 11 lengths clear of Glenquest in third and Jadanli in fourth. "I got my reins all tangled up and, unfortunately, I dropped my whip bypassing the last," said Russell. "He really tanked right through the race and he just idled a bit in front."
Don Cossack got the ball rolling for Russell when landing his 30/100 price in tremendous style as he made a winning debut over jumps in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.
Unbeaten in three bumpers last term, the Gordon Elliott-trained gelding shrugged aside long-time leader Sizing Gold from the second-last and won by nine and a half lengths. "He will probably come back here for the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle (December 16)," Elliott said afterwards.
Noel Meade sent out 5/4 favourite Sword Of Destiny to complete the Gigginstown trio when taking a decent renewal of the beginners' chase. Russell's mount breezed past Darwins Fox on the run-in for a six-length success.
Cheltenham Festival winner Alderwood made a promising chasing debut for the Tom Mullins team, but slipped up on the flat close home when in third place. Both he and jockey McCoy were reported to have escaped unscathed.
Of the winner, Meade commented: "I think this is a hell of a horse. The original plan was to go for the Drinmore (Fairyhouse, December 2) had he won the last day, but I'm not sure where he will go now."
Meade was earlier on the mark with Busty Brown in the Grade Two Irish Form Book 'Monksfield' Novice Hurdle. Paul Carberry brought the six-year-old through to beat Seefood by two and a half lengths, with Russell's mount Bonisland back in third.
Carberry sat out the rest of the afternoon as he was still suffering from a shoulder problem after his fall from Go Native at Punchestown a week ago.
The John Kiely-trained Joanne One later backed up a pleasing debut at Cork to win what is likely to be an informative renewal of the Listed mares' bumper.
Drawn N Drank took the opening maiden hurdle for Enda Bolger and Martin Ferris, while Misca Musca got off the mark at the fifth attempt in the handicap hurdle under John Cullen.