Injury rules out Davy Russell from appearing at Cheltenham Festival

Davy Russell ruled out of appearing at 2021 Cheltenham Festival

Davy Russell has been struggling to overcome a recent injury and as a result will not be making an appearance at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival which gets underway in less than four week’s time. The leading jockey – who triumphed in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Lord Windermere – fell at the first fence in the Munster National back in October 2020 and after dislocating and fracturing vertebrae he has been sidelined since.

Russell was the leading rider at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, however his absence from the 2021 event means that Richard Johnson will be carrying the mantle of the festival’s most successful jockey on duty. Russell rode three winners in the 2020 festival and on the back of this he moved ahead of Johnson into second position on the list of active riders with a grand total of 25 wins. The subsequent retirement of Barry Geraghty left Russell top of the pile.

The 41-year-old returned to the saddle at the start of the year, however while he was initially optimistic that he would be ready to be involved in competitive action at Prestbury Park next month, he has been forced to concede that it isn’t going to happen and confirmed this in a statement on Thursday.

Russell said: “I met with my surgeon earlier today – and although he is delighted with the progress I have made, he feels that I’m not quite where I should be in order to ride at Cheltenham next month.

“It is frustrating as I feel I have made giant strides in recent weeks on the road to recovery. However, after talking through things with (trainer) Gordon (Elliott), we both feel it sensible for me to follow advice and miss Cheltenham, as it is only weeks away.

“To ride horses of the calibre of Envoi Allen you have to be 100 per cent fit, and I would be doing the team a disservice to ride when I’m not ready. Obviously, it is hugely disappointing, but it is important to make the call early.

“I will continue to work hard on my recovery and look forward to getting back in the saddle the following month.

“I remain so grateful for all the extraordinary medical attention I have received, and thank you for all your lovely messages of support.”

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival takes place between Tuesday 16th March and Friday 19th March at Prestbury Park and the bookmakers are once again offering a wealth of Cheltenham Free Bets and other promotions such as enhanced places and cash-back bonuses on all of the big races at the event.