Russell shows his champion class with Thurles brace
DAVY Russell was in double-winning form at Thurles where the champion jockey landed both novice chases.
First up was the success of the Philip Byrne-trained Moiqen which took the opening contest over two miles after getting the better of Stradbally on the run-in.
Russell tracked the leaders aboard the 11/4 favourite before launching his challenge on the wide outside coming down to the last and his mount ran on strongly to win by just over a length.
The second of the Russell brace came in the beginners' chase over two miles and six furlongs as the giant-sized Carry Each Other obliged in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud.
Trained by Mouse Morris, the former point-to-point winner didn't travel in the manner of a 6/4 favourite for most of the trip, until his staying prowess started to kick in leaving the back straight.
Second favourite Western Man still looked like he was travelling best coming down to the final fence, but Carry Each Other stayed on powerfully to get on top by a length and a half.
The closing Rock Of Cashel Handicap Chase was won by Letterlee Star in the hands of David Splaine, whose father Robert was in the news earlier this week following his reappointment as chef d'equipe of the Irish Showjumping team.
Trained by Michael McDonagh in Clare, the son of Old Vic galloped on remorselessly to beat the gambled-on Mr Bb by nine lengths.
Meanwhile, a horse which Russell rode to victory at Newcastle earlier this season – the Nicky Richards-trained Duke Of Navan – ran out an impressive winner of yesterday's Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso.
Ridden by Brian Harding, Duke Of Navan (5/2) was always travelling smoothly and overcame a peck on landing after the final flight to see off favourite Any Given Day by two-and-a-half lengths.
The winner is engaged in the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, but Richards is more likely to wait for the Grand National meeting at Aintree in April.
"We'll just let the dust settle," the trainer explained. "He's in at Cheltenham, but we might give that a miss. The two-mile novice (Supreme) looks very hot. He'll probably go to Aintree. He's a horse I want to develop."
Richards completed a double when 13/1 shot Brijomi Queen landed the mares' bumper for the second year in succession.