Saturday 18 November 2017

Russell in breath test controversy at Listowel

Jockey Davy Russell in the weigh room at Listowel yesterday
Jockey Davy Russell in the weigh room at Listowel yesterday

Thomas Kelly

RACING: Top jumps jockey Davy Russell had a day to forget at Listowel yesterday -- starting with a failed breath test and ending with him being hospitalised after a bad fall. In between all that, he missed out on riding a winner.

In an extraordinary episode, tee-totalling Russell failed an initial breath test at the Kerry track, but was allowed to take up his mounts after he told the authorities he didn't drink and insisted on a second test.

The Cork rider, who has not had a drink for 15 years, was randomly tested and recorded a level twice the allowed amount -- registering 75 micrograms of ethanol per 100 millimetres of breath. The limit is 35. Russell claimed that using mouthwash after brushing his teeth caused him to fail the test, but as he arrived at the track early, he was able to take a successful second test.

"I don't drink, the last time I had a drink was 15 years ago and that was the only time. I have no interest in drink." said Russell.

"Fortunately because I'd arrived here early they allowed me take a second test, half an hour after the first one, and that proved negative.

"It has to bring into question the whole system of breath-testing jockeys. If I'd been a bit later to the track, I wouldn't have been allowed to ride because if you fail within half an hour of your ride you can't ride."

The day was to get worse for the jockey, who is retained by Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary to ride his string of horses. Russell sustained injuries to the right of side of his chest and back when Mister Two Fifty crashed out at the sixth fence in the Kevin McManus Beginners Chase.

On returning to the weighing room, the Cheltenham-winning jockey complained of chest pains and was taken to Tralee General Hospital for X-rays.

Last night, Dr Patricia Houlihan gave an update on his wellbeing: "He's in a stable condition and undergoing evaluation.

"He is having X-rays on his right upper limb, chest and right upper back."

To rub salt into his wounds, Russell's intended mount in the Devon Inn Hotel Handicap Hurdle -- Lough Ferrib -- went on to win the three-mile affair under substitute Davy Condon.

Irish Independent

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