Reduced bans free Russell and Enright for festive fare

Davy Russell and Philip Enright are free to ride at the big Christmas festivals after the five-day bans they received for the ’whip borrowing’ incident at Clonmel on December 7 were reduced to two days on appeal.

Reduced bans free Russell and  Enright for  festive fare

Dual champion jockey Russell was riding the Charles Byrnes-trained 8-13 favourite Leave At Dawn in the Powerstown Handicap Hurdle, while Enright was aboard 33-1 shot Backinyourbox.

Russell dropped his whip after his mount made a bad mistake at the first obstacle and television coverage showed him appearing to take Enright’s stick before the runners jumped the second flight.

Both horses finished well down the field, with Leave At Dawn a disappointing eighth and Backinyourbox further back in 12th position.

The stewards on the day found Russell and Enright in breach of Rule 272, which is related to bringing racing into disrepute, and were handed five-day suspensions.

However, following today’s hearing they will now sit out just the action on December 20 and 21.

Turf Club press officer Cliff Noone said: “The panel agreed with the Clonmel stewards that both riders were guilty of breaking Rule 272, in that their actions were prejudicial to the proper conduct of racing.

“The panel is keen to send out a message that these things should not happen. However, both have clean records and the panel has decided their bans should be reduced from five to two days.

“They will now be suspended on December 20 and 21.”

Among Russell’s rides at Leopardstown will be Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere in the Lexus Chase on December 28.

At Fishers Cross is on course to run in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown after delighting trainer Rebecca Curtis in a racecourse spin at Ffos Las on Monday.

After an inauspicious start to last season, the seven-year-old came good in the spring, finishing third in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham before finishing in the money at Aintree and at the Punchestown Festival.

He disappointed on his return to action at Wetherby in early November, but Curtis is confident her charge will perform better in Ireland on December 28.

“He went very well on Monday. I was really pleased with him,” said the Newport trainer.

“All being well, he’ll run at Leopardstown at Christmas. I’m not sure what else will be in the race, but hopefully he’ll go there and run a nice race.

“He came on a lot for his first run at Wetherby. He always comes on for his first run and the ground was also pretty quick at Wetherby.

“Hopefully there’s a bit more cut in the ground at Leopardstown.”

Cole Harden will not run in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 28.

The talented five-year-old, winner of the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby in October, is behind in his work after he suffered a small setback when second in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month.

Trainer Warren Greatrex said Cole Harden will instead reappear at Cheltenham at some stage next month.

The Berkshire handler told his website, www.wgreatrexracing.com: “Cole Harden will not be going to Leopardstown.

“We found him to have a bit of birch just above his knee which was causing some heat.

“He has had it removed and all has gone well but he has missed some work so will not be ready.

“If he comes to hand quick enough he may go to Cheltenham (on New Year’s Day) over two and a half miles.

“The drop back in trip is not ideal but if the ground is bad he should be OK, otherwise we will wait for Cheltenham Trials Day.

“The main targets are in the spring so all road lead there.”

Meanwhile, Flemenstar could be back on the racecourse in February after more than a year off recovering from a tendon injury.

Not seen since winning the Grade 2 Fortria Chase at Navan back in November 2013, Flemenstar’s recent scan results have been positive and he is back cantering with a view to returning to the track in the middle of February.

Flemenstar, now trained by Tony Martin, is a general 25-1 shot for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and 33-1 for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup but he will face a race against time to be fit for the festival and owner Stephen Curran said he won’t be rushed.

“I hope to have him back on the racecourse in mid-February,” Curran said. “It is a case of taking it one day at a time but, touch wood, it is so far so good with him.

“He done plenty of work. He had two months on the road, then he went back trotting and now he’s cantering away and I’ve been thrilled with him. We could barely keep a hold of him this morning.

“His scans have been perfect but we have to be careful with him. I would be devastated if we didn’t manage to get him back to the track.”

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