Davy Russell: I’d wear a black bag in the car and jump in the sauna. Then stop at Supermacs. Pure madness.

Davy Russell says he took his guide from Jimmy Barry Murphy in refusing to bite back at Michael O’Leary after he lost his job as Gigginstown retained rider in 2013.
Davy Russell: I’d wear a black bag in the car and jump in the sauna. Then stop at Supermacs. Pure madness.

Davy Russell explained how he resisted any temptation to hit back at Michael O’Leary having gone on to win the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Lord Windermere. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Davy Russell explained how he resisted any temptation to hit back at Michael O’Leary having gone on to win the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Lord Windermere. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Davy Russell says he took his guide from Jimmy Barry Murphy in refusing to bite back at Michael O’Leary after he lost his job as Gigginstown retained rider in 2013.

Speaking about his love of hurling and horses on Anthony Daly’s Irish Examiner Podcast, Russell explained how he resisted any temptation to hit back at O’Leary having gone on to win the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Lord Windermere.

“You know where I picked a lot of that up, was listening to Jimmy Barry Murphy,” Russell said.

“Every time Jimmy Barry was interviewed after a match, in success or defeat, he’s a little bit higher or lower, but not too much.

“You must be magnanimous in defeat or victory. I had it in my head from a young age and my dad instilled it.”

In the podcast, Russell talks about preparation, about how he must know the background of every horse in every race.

He touches on psychology: “If you want to know who’s behind you in a race, read tomorrow’s paper.”

And he talks about growing up with a love for Youghal and Cork GAA.

He also explains why he had the wrong approach to fitness and nutrition until O’Leary intervened.

“I was the wrong era for nutritionists. I had too many bad habits.

I used get up, have nothing, go through the morning on nothing, and have something at lunchtime or after racing. I was a crank. I could do nothing right. My weight was fluctuating. There was no happy medium.

“Michael O’Leary had a chat with me around 2010/11 and told me my weight was a huge issue and he wanted me to stop doing too light.

“I rose my minimum weight. Started eating a little bit more but the right things.

“I was friendly with Sean O’Brien, the rugby player. And he was living with a fella called Dan Davies. And I had a 20-minute conversation with him.

“He gave me the strong points. Eggs are a huge plus and eat anything from the ground with loads of colour. I went to that.

“So I started getting up in the morning and having an egg. A simple thing. I ate a bit more but the right things. My weight levelled off.

“You couldn’t realise the difference it made to me being happy. I went from being absolutely sour, dour. Doing anything for the sake of an argument. My mind was gone warped.”

The three-time Irish champion jumps jockey regrets he didn’t start out in racing with that approach.

“If I knew at 18 I was going to be a professional jockey or be any way good at it, I would have gone on a diet the first day I took out my license.

“Then I would have picked up no bad habits.

“But I did it arseways. I put on a plastic bag and ran around the fields. I drove the car to the races with a plastic bag on and the heaters full whack. And what do you do then halfway, buy an ice cream because of the heat.

“You’re fooling yourself. Get to the races then, into the sauna, lose a couple of pounds. And what do you do when you finish, stop at Supermacs in Galway on the way back from Ballinrobe. Pure madness.

“But if I was 18 and told lads I was going on a diet they’d look at me and say, who do you think you are. What business have you going on a diet, you can’t even ride a winner.”

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