Bookies pay out on Russell

Davy Russell is already past the post in the race for the Irish jump jockeys championship as far as bookmakers Stan James are concerned.

They have decided to pay out to punters who backed the County Cork-born rider to land his first-ever title as he holds a substantial lead with the season drawing to a close at the end of this month.

Russell is currently 18 ahead of Ruby Walsh, by 100 to 82, and the curtain comes down on April 30 with the final card at the five-day Punchestown Festival.

“Davy Russell is a substantial loser in the Stan James book as we originally chalked him up as 9-4 when we were first up to open a book on this market,” said Stan James’ Joseph Burke.

“There were plenty of takers at that price, the biggest individual bet laid being one of £4,000 at 9-4, but nevertheless, we feel it’s a done deal now and that after five consecutive second-place finishes, Davy will finally be crowned champion Irish jump jockey at Punchestown.

“Stan James have now opened a new handicap book for the remainder of the season where we are essentially betting on the margin of victory and Davy is available at 5-6 minus 10.5 winners.”

Despite having a big lead, Russell refuses to accept he is champion until the season is over.

“It doesn’t matter until the end of Punchestown. You just try to ride as many winners as you can because I have Gigginstown and a lot of owners and trainers to keep happy,” he told At The Races.

“It’s a bit premature to be talking about it, but it will be pleasing to ride a lot of winners.

“I’m just concentrating on keeping the connections happy.

“It meant a lot to me when I was point-to-point champion, but I know it can go to the end.”

In the Champion Trainer hunt Willie Mullins (127 winners and €2.2m prizemoney) continues his domination. Mullins has saddled more than twice as many winners as his nearest rival - Noel Meade on 59 - and is certain to secure his fifth consecutive Trainer’s Championship.

His son Patrick could complete the double for the fourth successive year if his five-winner lead over Nina Carberry is maintained in the Champion Amateur Rider title race.

The race for the Champion Owner title could go down to the wire. JP McManus holds a narrow €100,000 lead over Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud at the moment following a successful blitz at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival.

It’s all building up to a bumper conclusion to the campaign at the Punchestown Festival (April 24-28) where presentations will be made to the NH champions on the final day of the season on the Saturday.

* The first meeting of the year at Tipperary takes place on Thursday evening, April 19.

Admission prices for 2012 have been revised and are set at €10 for adults, €8 for students and seniors while under 18’s are free for all fixtures.

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