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Press Release 15th April 2023 Aintree

Trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Davy Russell combined to take their second Grade One contest at the Randox Grand National Festival when Irish Point was successful in the Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

Gordon Elliott, the winning trainer of Irish Point, said: “We decided to miss Cheltenham and come here fresh and it worked out well, he travelled well the whole way. He’s a nice chasing prospect but he could stay jumping hurdles too, he likes soft ground and there’s a lot of prize money to be won with him so we’re happy with him.

“It’s brilliant for Davy (Russell), that’s two Grade One wins for the week now. He deserves a good send off and he’s getting it now. He said enough was enough after Cheltenham but I gave him a ring and said ‘I don’t want you to go out like that Davy, we’ve been together for too long’ so I’m delighted for him to win another Grade One. I’m delighted for the whole team at Cullentra House Stables and for the owners.”

Davy Russell, the winning rider, told ITV Racing: “It’s a marvellous place. These big winners are hard to come by, so we like to enjoy them when they are here.”

Asked whether this is his last day riding, Russell said: “I don’t want to say it is and come back for the third time, but I’m enjoying it anyway. It’s great to take it all in.”

On whether riding here feels different now, he said: “I have to ride like I’m a 21-year-old again, you have to. These young lads, they’re not easily beat, and they are all great chaps inside the weighing room there. They are all very professional and fit. You have to prepare the way they prepare or you get left behind.”

Asked if he believes Galvin can do it in the Grand National, he added: “Ah yeah, I’ll line up there the same as any other year. It would be great for Ronnie (Bartlett, owner), he is a great man and a very good friend of mine – I know he is here to enjoy himself and anything after that is a bonus.”

On what Aintree has meant to him through his career, he said: “It’s very special, it’s a special place. I just hope the people of Liverpool and the people of England realise what they have here. You can’t get this anywhere else in the world. This is very special.”

Russell went on to say: “It all went according to plan. We jumped out and got a good position, and he jumped fantastic. He was always travelling and we know he stays. He was just very professional.

In the early part of the year he was very immature and I’d say those early races might have caught up with him, so Gordon slowed it all down and brought him back at Naas, with here in mind. The bit of rain about probably helped, and it’s a credit to Gordon and (owners) Robcourt for the decisions they made to benefit the horse, which probably maxed him out.

He could be anything next season. All along I thought he was immature, but today he seems to have come of age. He does stay well and he jumps fantastic, so he could go chasing or stay hurdling.”

“My wife was very upset after Cheltenham - her dad had passed away recently too - and I think the whole thing caught up with her. She stressed to me that I needed to get back in and not finish on that note, then obviously Gordon jumped in as well and between the two of them they made it very comfortable to go ahead and come here.

"I’d have been happy enough to finish after Cheltenham. I’m big enough to accept that, but the two Grade One wins here have really put a shine on it.”

Dan Skelton, trainer of the runner-up Kateira, said: “I’m delighted with that run for a very progressive filly. She has been very good all season and that is the first time we have asked a big question of her so to finish second in a Grade One is very good.

“The other one skipped clear and showed real Grade One quality and I don’t think much dissimilar other than we have been beaten three and a half lengths. It was a very good run.

“I don’t think what happened late on, when one fell, hampered her as Harry was glued to the rail but I couldn’t really see. But whatever happened we were beaten far enough that it wasn’t an excuse.

“She hadn’t shown her hand whatsoever as she had been going around in small novice hurdles but she is very good. Two and a half miles is a nice trip for her. I wouldn’t be afraid to start over two miles next season up at Wetherby for the Listed hurdle on Charlie Hall Chase day. We could start her in something like that and work around it from there.”

Paul Nicholls, trainer of the third Hermes Allen, said: “I’m thrilled with that. He’s run a really good race. Probably, we could have done with it being the other way round and the three-mile being today on that ground; I was trying to get it all right earlier in the week, and I was always going three miles with him, but when we thought it was going to rain I switched Stay Away Fay [to the Winners Wear Cavani Sefton Novices’ Chase on Friday] because I didn’t want to go three on soft ground. But as it turned on that ground today, we’d have been better going three miles [rather than two and a half].

“But he’s run really well, he’s a Grade One for the season, we can improve his breathing, he’ll have a wind op in the summer and then go novice chasing. Ultimately his aim is the Kauto Star [Novices’ Chase] at Kempton.”

3.00pm Turners Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1)
1 Irish Point 5/1
2 Kateira 14/1
3 Hermes Allen 3/1F

14 ran NR: Mofasa
Distances: 3½l, 2¾l, 7


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