Wednesday 13 December 2017

Tarla set to spoil Russell's mindboggling comeback

Davy Russell
Davy Russell
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Reigning champion jockey Davy Russell makes a mindboggling comeback at Cork this afternoon, just one week after puncturing a lung at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Youghal native (pictured below) took a heavy fall when Un Beau Matin crashed out at the last flight in last Wednesday's Coral Cup and collapsed while riding out the following morning, but was passed fit to race ride later that day.

However, after developing difficulty breathing following his second outing on Argocat in the Jewson Chase, he was diagnosed with what was described as a spontaneously punctured lung.

A tube was inserted into Russell's side on-course to begin the process of reinflating the lung and he spent three nights recuperating in Cheltenham General Hospital, but today returns to battle on Rebel Fitz.

Mick Winters' Galway Hurdle hero is a serious horse that Russell would be loath to miss out on, but his prompt resumption may have more to do with keeping Ruby Walsh at arm's length in his quest to retain his title.

He had to make do with five runner-up finishes prior to topping the pile, so his six-strong lead over Walsh is not something he will relinquish without a fight.

That all said, Rebel Fitz has a job on its hands in the Hurdle, with Tarla, Rathlin and Oilily treated nicely at the weights.

Of that trio, Tarla is the only one fancied to take advantage of the concession.

Willie Mullins' classy mare has come to grief with races at her mercy on her last two chasing starts and she will be more comfortable over two and a half miles on heavy ground than Rebel Fitz, which hasn't run since the autumn.

She receives seven pounds from Winters' charge, which means she has just a pound to find on official figures.

With Walsh sitting out today, David Casey can steer Tarla home in front.

Robert Tyner could secure a brace at his local track courtesy of the Philip Enright-ridden pair County Champions and Dushrembrandt, with the nap going to Mireya in the Martinstown Maiden Hurdle.

Cathy Harrison's Celtic Swing mare, a bumper winner at Galway in October, finished second to Operating on her first run back at Leopardstown earlier in the month.

A reproduction of that effort ought to be good enough in today's modest company.

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