Gordon Elliott’s Irish Point was an impressive winner of the Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree for retiring jockey Davy Russell.
A 5-1 chance under Davy Russell – winning his second Grade One of the week – the gray ran in mid-division and crept into a more prominent position as the field turned for home.
Behind the leaders over the penultimate hurdle, the five-year-old took up the lead over the last and pulled clear up the home straight to win comfortably from Kateira, who was three and a half lengths in arrears.
Elliott said: “We decided we’d miss Cheltenham and come here fresh and it worked out well. He traveled well the whole way and everything was great.
“He’s a nice horse. He could go chasing next season or he could stay over hurdles. He likes soft ground and there’s a lot of prize-money to be won with him in Ireland [over hurdles].
“It’s brilliant for Davy. He’s after getting two Grade Ones this week now and as I’ve said we’re nearly at the end of him. He deserved a good send-off and he’s getting it now.”
Russell – who called a temporary halt to his retirement to fill in for the injured Jack Kennedy, but did not enjoy the best of weeks at Cheltenham – said: “I left out my wife yesterday [after winning on Gerri Colombe], but she was actually very upset after Cheltenham. Her dad passed away recently, the whole thing caught up with her and she stressed to me that I needed to get back in and not finish on the note that I finished on.
“Obviously Gordon jumped in as well and between the two of them they made it very comfortable for me to go ahead and do it.
“I was happy enough to finish after Cheltenham – I’m big enough to accept it. I’m lucky I can go back through the years and remember them, but now this really does put a shine on the trophy.”
Of Irish Point, he added: “He could be anything. All along I thought he was immature, but today he just seemed to have come of age.
“He does stay well and jumps fantastic. He could go chasing or he could stay over hurdles. I think a summer’s grass, bring him back in and see what happens.
“It is great to be here and big winners are hard to come by, so we like to enjoy them while they are here.
“I don’t want to say this is my last day riding and then come back for a third time, but I’m enjoying it, anyway. It’s great, you have to take it all in.
“Aintree is very special. It is a special place. I just hope the people of Liverpool and the people of England realize what they have here. You can’t get this anywhere else in the world, it is very special.”