'This one's for Pat' - Davy Russell pays emotional tribute to ill jockey Smullen after Grand National triumph
Racing fans have heaped praise on Grand National-winning jockey Davy Russell after he dedicated his victory to fellow jockey Pat Smullen, who was diagnosed with a tumour in March.
Tiger Roll, ridden by Russell, won in a photo-finish ahead of Pleasant Company and the Cork native’s post-race thoughts were with Smullen.
"This one is for Pat Smullen," he said. "The man is tough as nails so this one’s for Pat."
The Gordon Elliott-trained horse was trailing behind Pleasant Company three fences out but a late charge was enough to secure the jockey’s first Grand National title to add to his three Cheltenham triumphs.
Russell spoke of his pre-race concerns about the horse, which was the smallest on the race card.
"I was afraid he wouldn't take to it because he’s very economical with his jumping," he said.
Those watching on were taken with with Russell’s humble response to winning the Grand National at the fourteenth time of asking.
Smullen, nine-time Irish flat racing Champion Jockey, has been on a break from racing following the diagnosis and took to Twitter on April 9th to provide an update on his recovery
"Thank you to everyone for all the kind messages and good wishes, it’s been completely overwhelming. Also to the medical team who have been looking after me, they are amazing people and with their help I’m looking forward to making a full recovery," the message read.