One of the highlights of day one of the Dublin Racing Festival was the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup.
The landmark race has seen wins for some greats over the years, with the likes of Florida Pearl, Beef or Salmon, and Carlingford Lough winning it on more than one occassion.
The Grade 1 showcase welcomed the likes of Kemboy, Frodon, and Minella Indo to Leopardstown this year. Last year's winner Kemboy was billed as the strong favourite.
But it wasn't to be for any of those names. It was outsider Conflated who took home the spoils with 42-year-old Davy Russell on board for an emphatic victory.
The Gordon Elliot trained horse last achieved success in Navan in December and did see a shift in the odds on race day - having gone from 33/1 to 18/1.
Russell Still On The Mark
No one believed Conflated was up to the task today given the other names in the race, but it pulled away magnificently from the likes of Frodon and Kemboy on the back straight.
Russell fended off a late challenge from Minella Indo and Robbie Power at the end, who had unseated Rachael Blackmore from the saddle for the race.
Conflated, owned by the Gigginstown House Stud, hadn't much of a track record in big races like this. But it was made even more special to see Davy Russell pick up the win.
The Cork jockey had spent a good deal of 2021 out of action after suffering a serious neck injury at the Munster National in Limerick the previous year.
He spent eleven months on the sidelines and it remained uncertain if he'd ever race again. Now, he's back riding winners in some of the top races in the horseracing calendar.
Davy's son Finn shared in the celebrations from home in Youghal:
Number one fan #numberonedad 🏇🥰🏆 pic.twitter.com/R2j5FVMIBU
— Edelle Russell (@Edelle16) February 5, 2022
Speaking to RTÉ after the race, Davy said even he was "very surprised" at how the race panned out and remarked how his stablemate, Camilla Sharples, had given him a push beforehand.
"I'm very surprised, but Camilla warned me every step we took when I got on his back. She said 'I'm keeping the faith this fellow is going to run a big race.' That gave me confidence going out."
Russell had a busy January in the lead up to the Irish Gold Cup, riding winners in the likes of Cork, Navan and Down Royal.
"He jumped super and did everything really, really well. He jumped straight as a die. He can hang a bit but nothing today. To be fair to the horse, he kept responding. The more I pulled out of him, the more he responded."
Jockey Davy Russell on "keeping the faith" as outsider Conflated took the featured Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup #DublinRacingFestival @LeopardstownRC #rteracing pic.twitter.com/QKyS4EBoKN
— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) February 5, 2022
There won't be much time to rest for Russell and Gordon Elliott after the big win. He's out tomorrow on the jumps in four different races.
Russell will be favoured for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle which opens day two at 12:45 pm.
Later on in the day, he's onboard the second favourite Three Stripe Life in The Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at 3:35 pm.