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"I Don't Know Why He Said It" - Davy Russell Responds To Michael O'Leary Dig

"I Don't Know Why He Said It" - Davy Russell Responds To Michael O'Leary Dig
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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With the Punchestown Festival in full swing, Davy Russell can enjoy his newfound role as a television pundit, after "sailing away into the sunset" with his recent retirement.

Russell suffered a shocking fall in 2020 which left him with serious back injuries and, after returning to the saddle in winning fashion last year, he would eventually announce his retirement at the conclusion of 2022.

He was coaxed out of retirement, however, just four weeks later, after being asked to stand in for the injured Jack Kennedy by Gordon Elliott.

Last month, Michael O'Leary had some rather contentious comments for Russell, saying that he wished the jockey had "stayed retired," before bringing his family into the discussion:

He’d retired and, personally, I wish he’d stayed retired. He has a young family with young children and at a certain point in time you should put your family first and not your riding career.

Russell has since re-confirmed his retirement, after riding his final race in the Grand National earlier this month, and spoke on RTÉ this week about his thoughts on those comments from O'Leary, a month on.

Davy Russell questions Michael O'Leary's retirement dig

After Wednesday's action at Punchestown, RTÉ host Hugh Cahill approached the subject of Michael O'Leary with guest Davy Russell.



The unfortunate comments from O'Leary in March crossed a line in mentioning Russell's family, and the ex-jockey said he did not know "what he had done to deserve it."

Nonetheless, he said that the two remained friends, and that he would not let the comments in isolation overshadow the good times they had shared together:

I don't know why he said it or why he felt that he had to dig in. I don't know, I don't know what I'd done to deserve it. I gave him my all every single day I went out.

Whether it was taken up in the wrong aspect, I don't know.

It's all done. Michael has been like that all the way through, and that's his way. It doesn't upset me. I rose to it, I shouldn't have - that's just Michael. We will remain the best of friends.

We've been through way better times to fall out over something like that.

Russell also spoke about what had drawn him to close out his career with one last race at this year's Grand National.

Even after his initial retirement U-turn, it seemed as though Russell would finish off with the Cheltenham Festival in March, before being convinced to return a final time for the iconic race at Aintree. He

I was delighted to be asked to come back and help out. I was only finishing riding for 15 or 16 days, so that wasn't a big issue.

I got back [after a bad fall] - the first two days of Cheltenham I rode away fine, don't think I did a whole load wrong. But then the pain, the pain, the pain - it just kept going. I couldn't take it anymore and I thought that was it then after Cheltenham.

I was happy enough to finish up. I was disappointed but I had it done, I had gone to Cheltenham and not rode winners in the past. I'm a big boy, I was able to handle it. Edel [his wife] was actually quite upset that it was going to end the way it ended.

Gordon then rang and said 'we're schooling the horses on Thursday, come up to the Curragh and school one of them...come up and school one of them, you'll ride a couple of graded winners in Aintree, ride it in the Grand National, and sail off into the sunset.'

If it's that easy, that's what we'll do!

It is wonderful that Davy Russell got the send off his career deserved at the Grand National - and that he and Michael O'Leary appear to have buried the hatchet.

SEE ALSO: Huge Shock As Fastorslow Wins Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup In Dramatic Finish

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