THE deputy mayor of Co Cork, Mary Linehan Foley, has said that the town of Youghal is immensely proud of Davy Russell for his back-to-back win on Tiger Roll in the Aintree Grand National .
The Youghal native brought home the Gordon Elliott-trained champion in first place for the second year in-a-row — becoming the first horse and jockey duo since Red Rum ridden by Brian Fletcher in 1974 to claim back-to-back Nationals.
Ms Linehan Foley said the whole town is delighted to have such a great ambassador for Youghal and East Cork and commented on the “lovely dedication to former Cork footballer Kieran O’Connor”, which she said shows “how special Davy is”.
“There’s a guy at home, Kieran — Kieran O’Connor from Aghada — and he’s going through an enormous battle of his life,” said Russell moments after the win. “And just to let him know that we’re thinking of him.
“This one’s for Kieran.”
Youghal GAA club described Russell him as a gentleman and a legend for the comments.
“The measure of the man shown in his post-race interview,”the club said on Twitter. “Last Saturday morning; Davy Russell was in our clubhouse to support the coffee morning in aid of Friends of Kieran.
“This Saturday afternoon, Davy paid tribute to Kieran O’Connor just moments after making history.”
Russell admitted to feeling huge pressure ahead of the race.
“There was the weight of two nations on him because English people have really got behind him as well as Ireland and I just felt that I didn’t want to leave the butcher or the taxi driver that had their fiver on Tiger Roll.
“I felt I was riding for the whole country.”
Trainer Gordan Elliott was overcome with emotion after the victory.
“We work very hard for this the whole time,” he said. “I’ve got a brilliant team behind me, and all my family at home.
“Davy Russell’s mother died last year and this was for her, and my uncle Willie Elliott died this year and this was for him.”
Mr Elliott, Russell, and owner Michael O’Leary were in Meath yesterday afternoon to parade Tiger Roll through Summerhill, Mr Elliott’s home village. Russell’s family were also there and wife Edelle said the excitement of the win nearly precipitated a new arrival.
“I’m seven months pregnant and I thought that baby was coming yesterday!” she said.
“Words can’t describe it, we are delighted, over the moon.”
Ms Linehan Foley said that a civic reception for the 39-year-old jockey had been in the works since last year for his win in the 2018 Grand National and Gold Cup and that she hoped this would happen shortly.