Mullins yet to decide on who will ride Sir Des Champs

Davy Russell may need operation after he punctured lung

Jockey  Davy Russell. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Jockey Davy Russell. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho


Willie Mullins indicated last evening he is likely to leave a decision on who replaces the injured Davy Russell on board Sir Des Champs in the Gold Cup as late as possible.

After confirmation came that Russell’s spontaneous punctured lung will keep him out of today’s action, speculation intensified as to who will team up with Ireland’s big hope of blue-riband glory.

With Ruby Walsh committed to the English hope Silviniaco Conti, the option of using his number two rider Paul Townend is open to Mullins.

However, Gigginstown Stud, who own Sir Des Champs, have used another top young Irish rider, Bryan Cooper, extensively this season and he stepped in for Russell on board both First Lieutenant and Bog Warrior yesterday.

“I don’t see any reason to rush into a decision and I would imagine we will leave it as late as possible,” said Mullins who wouldn’t be budged on possible names. “I’ll have to have a look at who’s available.”

The British champion Tony McCoy is booked to ride Sunnyhillboy for his boss JP McManus in the Gold Cup.  The Gigginstown boss, Michael O’Leary said: “I don’t know who will ride Sir Des Champs, we’ll talk to Willie overnight and decide who is the best available.

“Davy’s health is my biggest concern. He has a punctured lung which has to be drained. It’s quite serious and he can’t travel home. He might need a small operation.”