Grand National-winning rider Russell was knocked out of the saddle on Perfect Attitude, but saved himself a brush with the turf by putting out a hand to a rival runner
Top jockey Davy Russell gained a cheeky winner at Clonmel this afternoon – in more ways than one.
Just half-a-length ahead when he crossed the line aboard Perfect Attitude, the 42-year-old was quite fortunate to be on the horse at all.
Russell was saved from a brush with the turf in the Kilmore Maiden Hurdle by a rival’s rear end.
At the final flight passing the grandstand, Russell was knocked out of the saddle, but his proximity to The Mpex Kid stopped his impending descent.
The rider put out his hand and used the other runner to push himself back into position.
Further drama ensued when 13-8 favourite Perfect Attitude, who lived up to his name eventually in the close finish, ran around approaching the second last obstacle and bumped the horse nearest to him.
The Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old took a narrow lead on the run-in and kept on well to defeat Wild Shot.
Explaining what happened, Russell said: “Coming down to the hurdle, Conor Orr’s horse [The Mpex Kid] jumped left and I was gone, gravity had taken over. I saw Conor’s horse and was able to put my hand on his backside and then I was put on the back foot the whole way.
“It’s a credit to the horse that he was able to come back. I knew I was gone and the reins were no good to me.
“My own horse was no good to me and I knew if I grabbed on to Conor’s horse I had a chance.
“Luckily enough he was there and I had the full use of his backside to push me back into the saddle. If I’d fallen there I would have been really kicking myself.”
Perfect Attitude’s triumph was the second leg of a treble for Elliott, after Longacre Square took the claiming hurdle and Sam’s Choice struck in the bumper.
Russell only recently returned from a long absence after he suffered a bad injury.
He was treated for fractured and dislocated vertebrae when Doctor Duffy crashed out at the first fence of the Munster National at Limerick last October.
Russell was forced to miss the bulk of the latest National Hunt season – including the spring festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown.
In the months after the fall, he faced a gruelling recovery, having bolts drilled into his head and weights hung from his head to realign his spine.