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Davy Russell set to miss out on the 2021 Cheltenham Festival

Davy Russell out of Cheltenham but still on course for the Grand National

The countdown to Cheltenham is underway but Davy Russell, the festival’s most successful active jockey, has been ruled out of this year’s event. The 41-year-old suffered a serious injury to his vertebrae back in October and has not raced since, however while his intention was to make a return in time for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, it is now clear that this won’t be happening.

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Russell had been hoping to be a key component of Gordon Elliott’s team for the festival and his marquee rides were expected to include Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. He rode Lord Windermere to victory in the Gold Cup in 2014, however he remains very much on the sidelines following his failure to recover from his injury.

Russell confirmed in a statement yesterday that he wouldn’t be riding at the Cheltenham Festival. He 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.

Russell’s achievements also include the Grand National in which he has ridden Tiger Roll to victory in 2018 and 2019. He was denied the chance to make history by winning a third successive Grand National aboard Tiger Roll thanks to the 2020 running of the famous steeplechase being cancelled. Nevertheless, there is absolutely no reason to believe that he won’t have returned to full fitness in time for the 2021 National and we can expect to see him aboard Tiger Roll once again on 10th April as he bids for his third Grand National victory.